DCP in under 10 steps.

So you need a DCP. Well you’ve come to the right place.

As a filmmaker, if you’re talented (lucky) enough, you will be asked to have your work shown in a film festival. This year a commercial piece I did for PGB Hot Sauce made it into the HollyShorts festival. When it did, they asked for a DCP.

What the hell is a DCP?

Digital Cinema Projection. Basically yet another format you need to transfer your film into. The deal is that it cost sometimes a lot of money to have this done at a transfer house. Luckily, you can do it at home, and it’s about as easy as exporting your film to YouTube. Here’s how to make one in under 10 steps and under 10 minutes.

I personally learned of this technique from Danny Lacey, but at 28 minutes long, his how-to I felt needed a condensed version.


1) Set up a folder structure. Make a parent folder called DCP and inside include the following folders:
• Audio – this will hold your WAV files
• DPC – this will hold your final DCP
• Masters – this will hold your original masters
• JPEG2000 – this will hold your JPEG2000 sequence
• MXF – this will hold your MXFs
• TIFFs – this will hold your tupperware. I mean TIFFs.

2) Download openDCP – its free and super easy to use. Sounds like I’m selling spyware but Im not.

3) Convert your film to a tiff sequence. Obviously use your highest quality film, ProRes or higher. I did it through After Effects which was the easiest. Some things to consider:
• make sure your frame size/aspect ratio is what they are asking for. In my instance I shot in HD (1920×1080) but they required 2K (2048X1024). So make a new comp, set it to the desired resolution, and scale your picture accordingly.
• make sure your footage is 16bit. You can easily change this by importing it into AE, then clicking the “8bpc” which will make it “16bpc”. Don’t use 24bpc as DCP does not support that shit.

163) render out the tiff sequence to the TIFF folder.

4) render out audio into WAV files. For me, I did this in Premiere. Make sure you render out separate audio tracks (left and right) and at 24bit.

5) open up openDCP. Here goes the fun. First we’re going to make the JPEG2000 sequence. Here’s what the interface looks like:

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 2.17.40 PM

Make yours look like mine. The only different you might have is your frame rate. For the input directory, point that to your TIFF sequence. For the output point that at your JPEG2000 folder.

6) now switch tabs at the top to MXF. Looks like this:

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 2.21.24 PM

We’re gonna do two things here… make an MXF for picture (the JPEG2000 you just made) and for the audio (those WAV files you made) first, the picture. Makes yours like mine again, make sure the framerate is correct, and point picture input directory to the JPEG2000 folder. Output folder goes to your MXF folder.

7) When thats done switch the type to WAV. It looks like this:

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 2.24.25 PM

Dope. So here you can tune in your audio. I was just using stereo (left and right channels) so I only had to point the Left and Right fields to my WAV files. If you are using 5.1 or 7.1 then point all of them to the right WAV file. You know what do do. Then go ahead and make the MXF in you MXF folder.

8) We don’t have any subtitles so we’re going right to the DCP tab. Looks like this:

Screen Shot 2015-07-27 at 2.26.09 PM

Title: The title generator is great. Basically it helps you fill out the file name correctly. Just use the drop-down menu to select your choices. If something doesn’t apply, leave it blank.

• Annotation – Danny put in openDCP. Not sure why, but hell, why not.

• Issuer – no idea. leave blank

• Rating – knock yourself out.

• Kind – define your film.


• picture – point that to the XML you made

• sound – point that to the XML you made

MXF behavior – I put this to copy, incase you want to change something.

9) Create DCP – that it. Create the DCP. Here you can put on encryption if it is required by whoever you are submitting to, or not. But basically its done. The nice thing is that since you created a nice folder structure you can zip that badboy up and send them the whole package.

Well thats the whole of it. A DCP in under 10 steps and under 10 minutes. $2,000.00 saved. I’m ordering pizza.


P.S. if you want to see the spot that got in the festival check it out here … and wish us luck;)

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