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The best common practice to deliver a Digital Cinema Package (DCP)

The best common practice is to deliver the DCP on a Linux ext-2 USB 2 compatible hard drive. The Cru Dataport DX-115 hard drive caddy with a USB 2/3 adapter is often used. These hard drive caddies load directly into a lot of digital cinema equipment. Like Dolby/Doremi and the newer Sony media block.
-Some film festivals only accept Cru-DX115 hard drives.
-You are now allowed to have many DCPs and Assetmaps on the same hard drive according to the ISDCF Disc File Format guide and updated SMPTE standards.
-Some film festivals accept digital links to the DCP like filemail and Aspera and many cinemas are connected to digital DCP transfer networks like Movie Transit. I wrote a post about it here.

Standard physical DCP deliverables are made from these parts:

-The Cru Dataport DX-115 harddrive carrier/caddy:
Amazon link
eBay link

-The Cru Dataport Move Dock DX115 USB 2/3 with USB cable and universal power supply (US plug)
Amazon link
eBay link

-Western Digital Caviar Blue 500 GB 3.5 Inch Hard Drive or similar :
Amazon link

To transport these safely, you could use a Pelican 1400 Case:
Amazon link

Together these could look something like this:

New SSD DX115 version

Use a more robust Solid State Drive (SSD) and a smaller Pelican 1200 case (Use SSDs >240 GB)

-The Cru Dataport DX-115 harddrive carrier/caddy:
Amazon link
eBay link

-The Cru Dataport Move Dock DX115 USB 2/3 with a USB cable and universal power supply (US plug)
Amazon link
eBay link

-SanDisk SSD PLUS 480 GB Internal SSD
Amazon link

-Smaller Pelican 1200 case
Amazon link

Together these could look something like this:

Pelican 1200 cables
Pelican 1200 dx115
Pelican 1200 case


You could use a smaller USB C/2/3 hard drive in an even smaller case:

-Lacie rugged hard drive
Amazon link 

-Pelican 1120 case
Amazon link

Together these could look like this:

Note: Y cable:
You can deliver DCPs on USB 2 hard drives, but the DX-115/move dock adapter also works with equipment that does not supply the standard power on the USB 2 port. You can supply a Y cable with the LaCie rugged hard drive to support powerless USB 2 ports. (Cinemas with non-standard USB2 connections most likely have their own adapters)

Cable Matters Micro USB 3.0 to USB Splitter Cable (Y-cable)
Amazon link

The physical medium specification for DCPs

The physical medium specification for DCPs is a USB 2/3 external hard drive formatted as MBR Ext 2/3. (2 TB limit)
Doremi and Sony (and others) support MBR NTFS, but the recommended format is the Linux format Ext 2 or Ext 3 with an inode size of 128 that is read and executable only.
Source: ISDCF Disc File Format

To format Ext 2/3 hard drives, I have used:
-a PC running Ubuntu Linux
-Ubuntu Linux run from a USB Pendrive made with USB Linux creator.
-Ubuntu running in VirtualBox on a mac. Read more here.
-120 USD Raspberry Pi 400 kit pc Amazon link eBay link

You can copy the DCP to an inode 128 read and executable only EXT2/EXT3 hard drive in many ways.

Formatting the hard drive

In terminal. Install gparted.

sudo apt-get install gparted

Run gparted

sudo gparted

In Gparted

Click on “Device” – “Create a partition table”
Choose msdos.

Use add partition and format the drive as ext2 or ext3.

Note the name of the partition (like sdb1) and format it again in terminal with -I 128 inode.


sudo mkfs.ext3 -I 128 -L DCP123 /dev/sdb1


sudo mkfs.ext2 -I 128 -L DCP123 /dev/sdb1

Run nautilus in Terminal to get a root GUI file manager.

sudo apt install nautilus
sudo nautilus

Then copy the dcp directory to the hard drive in the Files/Nautilus file manager.

Then make the dcp directory read-only and executable:
In Terminal use the chmod command on the folder you made.

sudo chmod -R 755 /media/kese/harddrivename/foldername

To make the ext 2/3 partition without reformatting, you can use parted.
More detailed explanation in the ISDCF Disc File Format guide and here 

In terminal. Install parted.

sudo apt-get install parted

Use parted to make an MBR partition

sudo parted /dev/sdb mklabel msdos

run mkpart and make an ext 3 partition

sudo parted -a opt /dev/sdb mkpart primary ext 3 0% 100%

then format the partition with -I 128 inode

sudo mkfs.ext3 -I 128 -L DCP123 /dev/sdb1
sudo mkfs.ext2 -I 128 -L DCP123 /dev/sdb1


You can verify the hash values in the trial version of EasyDCP Player or using this command and compare the values to values in the XML files:
openssl sha1 -binary "FILE_NAME" | openssl base64

If you use Extfs for windows or Extfs for mac to mount the Linux hard drive, you can enable it to be mounted read-only.

MBR NTFS 1 partition hard drives are readable by the older Linux version used on Doremi/Dolby and other players/servers. MBR has a limit of 2 TB so a 50 USD 1 TB Western digital hard drive is suitable. (Amazon link)
MBR NTFS are used on some DCP hard drives.
It can be easier if you are in a hurry to download a DCP directly to a 1 MBR NTFS hard drive.

You can format a 1 partition MBR NTFS hard drive in Windows using
Computer Management –
Storage – Disk Management.
When right clicking the Disk and it says “Convert to GPT”, the disk is MBR.

If it is Exfat you can right click the volume and format it to NTFS

If it is says “convert to MBR”, the disk is GPT. To convert it to MBR you need to delete the partitions/volumes on the disk and then you can convert it to MBR and format it.

Note: exFAT is not supported:
New Linux distributions supports exFAT.  Cinema DCP servers/players use older Linux versions, which do not natively support exFAT formatted hard drives.

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Tips on converting Film Festival programmes to the DCP (Digital Cinema Package) format.

This year I converted all films that was not 35 mm or DCPs at the Films from the North 2011 section at Tromsø International Film Festival 2011 to DCPs. In total I made 33 DCPs (about 10 hours) in two weeks. I was also responsible for screening the DCPs at the film festival. I checked the sound level on each DCP in the cinema theatre and wrote down what level they should be played back at. I also wrote down what audio preset should be used (5.1 or 2.0 with Pro Logic decoding). If you are converting to the DCP format for screenings where you will not be present I recommend using standard cinema level 5.1 sound mixes.

Here are some tips if you are thinking about converting a film festival programme to DCPs:

    I recommend using batch processesing when making DCPs of short films, I used Fraunhofer Easydcp + to make 1-5 DCPs each night.
    Have a tested worfklow before the festival films arrives. It must cover both interlaced and progressive material. Standard definition and high definition. Stereo and 5,1 sound. Material that has subtitles outside the safe zone and material that does not use a standard resolution. . .
    Use different quality control stages, I recommend two computer screens so you can look at the material fullscreen 1:1 . I recommend using the RGB parade scope in Apple Color/Resolve to check how the source is color corrected/graded. I recommend checking the DCPs in a movie theatre, preferably the screen you will screen the film at or one that is suited.
    Find out how much the picture is cropped at the theatre where the films are screened. Also check for a 1920×1080 1.77 preset.
    If using 25 fps or 30 fps DCPs, check if they work in the theatre that will be screening the films.
    If using DCPs with stereo sound make sure the theatre has Dolby Pro Logic 1 or 2 decoding or something similar to get the speech in the center channel. If a stereo soundtrack is played in stereo everyone on the right side of the screen will hear speech coming from the right and those one the left will hear it coming from the left.
    In total I made 33 DCPs (about 10 hours) in two weeks. I always had 1-5 DCPs being made each night that I tested the next day. I could convert 1,5 hours from one day to the next with easydcp + on a quad core computer. Some people uploaded their films as Prores quicktime to a FTP server or used Filemail Corporate instead of delivering on Digibeta or HDCam. This helped speed things up.
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Tips on DCP resolutions and some other things

edit 4
DCPs uses these standard resolutions:
2K Flat 1.85: 1 1998×1080
2K Scope 2.39:1 2048×858
4K Flat 1.85: 3996 x 2160
4K Scope 2.39: 4096 x 1716
-Getting the resolution correct is important.
-Flat and Scope are the standard presets in all cinemas.
-1.78:1 (16/9) and 2.35:1 films can get image artifacts (trapezoid shape) in the cinema because the standard side masking presets are made for 1.85 and 2.39.
-Scope films are projected wider than Flat films in a common height cinema.
-A 4K DCP is compatible with 2K and 4K projectors.
-Full container (C) 2048×1080/4096×2160 is not used by Hollywood feature films. Films made with these resolutions will probably be projected in Flat with cropping on the sides at most cinemas.

edit 3: This post is a bit technical. Basically what I am saying is that you will lose pixels in both constant height and constant width cinemas if you don’t use either a Flat 1998×1080 or a Scope 2048×858 resolution when making a DCP. In some cinemas 1920×1080 can’t be masked on the sides and you will loose some perceived contrast but you will not lose any pixels.


Posted this at a webforum:

HD workflows where the 1920×1080 container of HDCAM-SR tape is standard should be changed to 2K workflows for digital cinema work.

The 1.78 aspect 1920×1080 fits ok, but 1.85 or 2.39 inside a 1920×1080 container does not fit.

The RED 2K 2:1 2048×1024 resolution does fit the 2.39 digital cinema presets with cropping to 2048×858 (if this was intended when shooting), but to get to the 1.85 digital cinema preset you have to crop and scale to get to 1998×1080.

1920×1080 1.77 material can have black padding on the sides to achieve 1998×1080 or be scaled and cropped. Digital cinema servers can play 1920×1080 but the standard is 1998×1080 so it is preferable.

The reason that 1080 material fits better than 1024 material is that the side masking can be adjusted in a constant height cinema. I would recommend padding to 1998×1080.

If all the 2048×1024 information is vital, scale to a 1998×1080 container, but remember that having this much black padding above and below the picture kills the contrast.

The main problem when making 24 fps DCPs from 25 fps material, even with software like time factory 2 which keeps the channels in phase and keeps the pitch, is that they could alter the sound mix in the conversion process and introduce artifacts. If you slow down the sound you get a pitch change. So being able to play 25 fps DCPs on the doremi cinema server is great.

I did use the openjpeg encoder first to make DCPs but found it too slow for time critical use.

The biggest problem with mastering DCPs is the Quality Control stage. The best option is to check it where it will be played, if you get a DCP made or checked at a post house make sure they know what they are doing and tell them exactly what you want and what equipment the DCP will be played on.

edit: Answered a comment about DCP resolution:

All digital cinema projectors have one preset for Flat (1998×1080) and Scope (2048×858).
In a constant height theatre the resolution, the side masking and zoom changes when projecting the two presets.

The flat preset has 1080 pixels in height, the Scope preset has 858 pixels in height.
When going from Flat to Scope the lens zooms and the masking widens.
The pixels beyond 858 would have hit above the screen if they were not masked in the projector.

The flat preset has 1998 pixels in length, the Scope preset has 2048 pixels in length.
When screening 2048×858 in Flat the pixels beyond 1998 is masked in the projector and the image is letterboxed.

That is why you have to scale 2048×1024 down to fit the Flat preset or crop it to fit the Scope preset even though 2K is 2048×1080.

You should always avoid black padding/letterboxing, it kills the contrast.
That is why 1998×080 or 2048×858 should be your target.

It seems you have been to a constant width theatre where Scope is much smaller than Flat. This is a terrible solution. But the common width theatre could also just have presets for Scope and Flat. Those should always be your targets.

edit 2: Answered another comment about why you are going to loose pixels when using 2048 x1080 resolution.

At this lens searcher website (link is down) you can see that projectors and masking is programmed with a minimum of Scope and Flat presets and that theatres are either constant height or constant width:


You can also see that some cinemas have both side and top masking. A constant height theatre could also have top masking so theoretically a 2:1 ratio film in a Flat container could be masked. Presets for masking 1.33:1 and 1.78:1 is common. 2048 x 1080 will not fit any of the presets. A custom preset could be made in a constant height theatre if you program the side masking to go a little further than flat and remove the option to mask away pixels beyond 1998 in the projector. In a constant width theatre the custom preset could be programmed to use the same zoom as the scope preset, remove the masking of pixels beyond 858 in the projector and make a custom top masking.