What is a DCP?
A DCP is a Digital Cinema Package - a collection of files that represent a body of work (like a film, trailer or advertisement) that can be played back in a digital cinema server. Put simply, it's the way you need to deliver content to a cinema. In the same way that a Blu-ray disk is the format for a Blu-Ray player, a DCP is the format that a digital cinema server reads.
How are DCPs delivered?
All DCPs include online delivery free of charge. This can be done either just through a link via email, or we can give you an FTP login to download it that way. If going this route, you'll need to be able to load the DCP onto a correctly formatted drive yourself so you can take it to a cinema.
If you would prefer, we can load your DCP onto a preformatted drive that's ready for a cinema to ingest. Check out the delivery page for more details.
What format should drives be in that go to cinema?
Drives that are being delivered directly to the cinema should be in the EXT3 format with an inode size of 128 to ensure the widest compatibility possible. EXT3 is a linux based format and so by default can't be read or written to in Windows or OS X.
If you are ordering the drives with your DCP from Unravel they are preformatted so that you don't need to worry about this.
How does the free audio upmixing work?
When sending us work that only has a stereo mix, we upmix this to 5.1 surround sound at no additional charge. This is actually quite important for content playing back in a cinema. If using only a stereo mix, then it means people seated to the sides of a cinema will hear dialogue coming from the side rather than the center of the screen.
Our upmixing tools have sophisticated algorithms to help extract that dialogue and place it in the center channel so it comes from the center of the screen. Plus, they also help to spread out some of the other audio information to the surround speakers to help immerse your audience.
Why not create the DCP myself?
If you are an extremely tech savvy user, there are ways to create a DCP on your own. However, this isn't ideal - especially if time is of the essence. For one, once you have created the DCP you need a way to be able to play it back to proof it as DCPs aren't a standard format that can be played back without specialized software. You should also have a playback environment that is suited to proofing content (with surround sound and accurate monitoring). There's also naming conventions, differing audio level standards, specific ways of formatting drives, and validation that needs to be carried out.
Unravel makes the process as simple as possible for you so you don't need to worry about the complicated stuff above. Plus we've kept the pricing in check and affordable as possible too.
What frame rates are supported?
For the widest compatibility possible, 24fps is the gold standard when in comes to cinema. However in many cases (especially in Australia where we are based) content is often produced at 25fps. In these cases, we typically keep the content at 25fps unless we know that they are going to a theatre where they aren't compatible. For frame rates outside of 24 or 25fps, it's best to have a chat beforehand and work out a plan of attack.
Interop vs SMPTE
Interop is the legacy standard for DCPs whereas SMPTE is the newer standard. Because Interop is the legacy standard, it has the widest compatibility but is missing some of the newer features that SMPTE standards have (such as support for more frame rates). As a general rule, for anything that's being mastered at 24fps we use the Interop standard. For content that runs at 25fps we use the SMPTE standard.
What resolution/aspect ratio should I deliver?
The best place to find this information is to take a look at the spec sheet. There are a couple of different aspect ratio's supported in cinema and so the way you deliver is really dependent on your content.
As far as standards go, the majority of DCP's are either Flat (1.85 aspect ratio) or Scope (2.39 aspect ratio). If your content lies outside of these, then it is usually usually a matter of masking or blanking to fill the frame.
Which colour space should I deliver in?
There are a few different colour spaces you could deliver in. sRGB, Rec709 or P3 are all accepted formats - you just need to let us know what you've given us. If you don't know, just tell us exactly that and we'll do our best to determine it on this end :)
Which file formats are accepted?
Numerous file formats are accepted and you can check out the spec sheet for the full scoop. In general, for the highest quality, you'll want to provide a TIFF or DPX sequence. However it's also extremely common to deliver a high quality ProRes or DNxHD file. For more details, take a look at the file specs.
How do subtitles work?
There are a few different ways subtitles work, and this varies depending on whether we are going with an Interop or SMPTE DCP. For this reason, subtitles are usually approached on a cases by case basis.
It should be mentioned that the actual transcription and creation of subtitles files is not a service that Unravel offers - but once created, we can package those files into your DCP.
DCP Encryption - do I need it?
It is possible for DCPs to be encrypted so that they can only be played back on particular cinema servers at certain times. However, for many projects, this is typically overkill and actually adds unnecessary complications to the entire process. Not only in creating the DCP, but also in having the DCP play back without problems.
For example, if a film festival changes a cinema server at the last minute but doesn't have the correct authentication, it may mean your content cannot be screened. For this reason, many festivals actually request that films are delivered unencrypted.
Realistically, if you're asking if your DCP needs encryption, it's very unlikely that you do!
How does DX115 carrier hiring work?
When delivering feature films to multiple cinemas at once, hiring DX115 carriers is one of the most economical solutions. We hire the carriers for week long blocks and they include a return postage satchel so that once the cinema has loaded your feature onto their servers, they'll find their way back to us. Additionally all of our DX115 drives use solid state drives for high speed ingesting and durability when in transit. For pricing details, click here.
Questions? Get in touch today.