Digital Cinema FAQ using a keyboard

What is a DCP?

A DCP is a Digital Cinema Package. It is the format required by digital cinemas all over the world. It is designed to be a digital equivalent of a film print. A DCP contains the film picture as JPEG2000 wrapped into MXF (Media Exchange Format) along with audio, HOH tracks, XML subtitles and more. A DCP, when it reaches the cinema, is “ingested” into a Digital Cinema Server. Once verified, it is played back from the server to a Digital Projector. The DCP usually reaches the cinema on a CRU DX115 hard drive. These are specialist hard drives designed for digital cinema equipment and they can be purchased or hired from facilities such as ours. Short films, adverts and trailers can be sent digitally over broadband. For large distributions features can be sent via satellite. 

What is a KDM?

A digital cinema package can be encrypted. This is an anti-piracy measure and it means the DCP can only be played back with the use of a KDM (Key Delivery Message). This is a small XML file we send to the cinema via email. It is ingested onto the Digital Cinema Server along with the DCP. The KDM will only work on the server it has been made for. It contains the time and date when the DCP can be played back.

How do you verify your DCPs work on any digital cinema server?

All our DCPs are tested on industry standard Dolby and Doremi servers and carefully checked for data integrity. We also have a number of DCP health checks we carry out such as DVS Clipster’s DCP Validation Tool. When master drives are copied, each clone is verified sector for sector on an industrial hard drive duplicator. Our process has proven reliable for many years and we are trusted by some of the world’s largest film distributors.

What equipment do you use to generate DCPs?

We use DVS Clipster, which is the choice of major film studios all over the world. Clipster is second to none in terms of encoding quality, speed and features.

How long does the process take?

We always ask you to allow 48 hours for DCP creation. But if your deadline is tighter, we can sometimes accommodate depending on how busy we are. We also offer an overnight service. Speed also depends a lot on what format you wish to submit. The quickest formats include QuickTime ProRes and HDCAM SR.

How do I get my DCP to cinemas?

Once your DCP is completed it will be uploaded onto our cloud distribution system, Screenfast. You will be able to login and securely send your DCP electronically to any cinema. You can find out more about Screenfast by contacting us directly.

What if I have subtitles in more than one language?

That’s easy. We have the unique ability to make supplemental DCPs with different languages without re-encoding the entire film. Get in touch with us for costs and further explanation.

Can I supply the final DCP hard drive?

We have a strict policy of only supplying DCPs on industry approved CRU DX115 hard drives or our own tested USB flash drives. These are designed specifically for digital cinema use. If you can supply one of these units, yes. If not, you can either hire or purchase drives from us. We format all our drives as Linux EXT2 as described in the DCI standard.

Will you keep a copy of my DCP?

Yes. Active masters are kept in our library so they can be copied very quickly. Non-active masters are kept on our archive server for three years. After this period we will contact you to offer you an extended storage period. We will always securely delete your data at your request. 

Will you encode my film for free?

Sorry, in most cases no. But we do offer a discount for charities.

Will you sponsor our film festival?

Maybe. Get in touch with us. We have a lot of ways we can help film festivals.