How To Make A DCP For Free

Creating Digital Cinema Packages for free

how to make a dcp for free

Digital Cinema Packages are the gateway to digital cinema projection and distribution and is a specifically designed set of video, audio and metadata files which have been agreed upon by the Digital Cinema Initiatives as a global standard. You can download a pdf of the standard here.

It used to be that creating a DCP was a very expensive process reserved for only those with large budgets and big audiences. Now, through open source generosity, anyone can make an DCP file and get their film on the big screen with ease and for free.

I’ve previously posted about DCP creation here and you can check out a great 40 minute podcast from the Coloristo’s on the topic. If you want a super quick overview, also including the use of KDM’s (encryption keys) to protect your DCP check out ARRI’s guide.

DCP filesFor a very quick summary: DCP is video (JPEG 2000 with XYZ colour space inside an MXF wrapper), audio (Wav files in MXF at 24bit 48khz) and XML files that hold it all together. For a deeper explanation check out colorist Nikolai Walman’s DCP explanation here.

How To Make A Digital Cinema Package For Free

Creating DCP files

So you’ve finished your film and you can’t wait to see it projected in all it’s glory on the silver screen, now how do you actually make a DCP?

The filmbakery has posted an excellent explanation and step by step guide to creating DCP files for free using open source OpenDCP. It’s a brilliant, simple and informative read so if you want click by click instructions jump over and get started.

Before you do here are a few things you should know before you get creating:

1. Creating the image sequence, from your digital masters, into TIFF, BMP or DPX will take up a lot of space.

2. Converting the image sequence to JPEG 2000 images will take a lot of processing power.

3. One of the great benefits of image sequences is that if you need to change a portion of your film, a shot or scene needs fixing, you only need to re-render that shot or scene and replace those images in your sequence without having to re-export the whole film.

4. The best format for your delivery drive (or USB stick) is Linux EXT.

5. One of the main benefits of DCP is the XYZ colour space, which has a much greater gamut:

OpenDCP Video Tutorial & Word of Caution

In this half hour video tutorial writer/director Danny Lacey shares how to create a Digital Cinema Package using OpenDCP. Danny’s tutorial is largely based on this step by step guide from UK filmmaker Matt Cameron.

Why You Might Still Want To Pay A Lab To Create Your DCP

On Matt’s site there is an interesting comment from David Margolis, of Soho Digital Cinema, who has a few choice things to say about home-brewed DCP creation:

…it’s important to educate yourself about the difference between a homemade hacked DCP and something made by a professional lab. In my opinion your method will produce dreadful results. The JPEG encoder on this software is diabolical. The RGB to XYZ matrix is completely off making the picture look milky. Not to mention when I tested this program I found 6 major errors in the CPL and PKL which will cause issues with many servers. And if that’s not enough, it’s insanely slow!

If you know what you are doing and feel that you can trust OpenDCP then it still might be worth your while creating a DCP yourself, or if you want none of the hassle and all of the security of having someone else do it for you. Pay a lab.

DCP & DaVinci Resolve, After Effects and Premiere Pro

If you want to create DCP files straight out of your grade, you can install the easyDCP Plugin for DaVinci Resolve, which will set you back $999 for a license fee. If you want to know all about it check out the Resolve 10 Manual on page 683. This also allows you to create KDMs.

You can also export DCP files straight out of Premiere Pro or After Effects with a plugin called cuteDCP which costs €149 per license. In the short video tutorial above colorist Nikolai Waldman shows you how easy it is to use.

More Resources on DCP

If you want even more resources DCP you can check out this slideshare presentation from Graef Allen of Dolby Laboratories, at the Sundance Institute #Artistservices workshop. Or you can download a free ebook from Roush Media on Mastering DCP the right way.


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