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What is a DCP?

A DCP (Digital Cinema Package) is a special digital version of your movie for exhibition in commercial cinemas. If you want to screen your movie in the local Cinemark, AMC or other movie theater, most now require a DCP instead of a 35mm print. DCP is the new de facto standard for professional screenings. The most prestigeous film festivals, such as Sundance and Toronto, prefer DCP. If you want to submit your short for consideration for an Academy Award, a DCP is required.

When we finished our first feature, The Soul Gatherer, a DCP was preferred by the festivals we were submitting to, and the absolute lowest quote we got from any of the DCP encoding facilities we approached was still thousands of dollars. We chose instead to invest in what we would need to create our own DCP, and now offer this service to other filmmakers.

We offer extremely competitive rates on 2K DCP encoding and will make it our priority to meet your turnaround needs.

Best settings:

Audio: uncompressed PCM; 48 kHz or 96 kHz; 2.0, 3.0 (required for Academy Award submission), or 5.1; preferably 24 bit depth, all though we can convert it from 16 bit audio at no additional charge.
Frame rate: 24 frames per second.
Frame dimensions: 1920 x 1080 (Full HD), 1998 x 1080 (Flat, 1.85:1 aspect ratio), or 2048 x 858 (Scope, 2.39:1 aspect ratio).

Note: Flat and Scope are the only dimensions for 2K DCP guaranteed to work with all theatrical Digital Cinema projectors, so if your movie is 1920 x 1080 (Full HD) and takes up the whole frame, we can either scale it up to a width of 1998 and crop the top and bottom, or drop it into a 1998 x 1080 frame with black borders on the sides. If your movie is 1920 x 1080 and letter-boxed for a scope look, we can scale it up a width of 2048 and crop the top and bottom to the achieve the Scope aspect ratio.

Cropped Example Image

Full HD frame blown up to 1998 width, showing area to be cropped at top and bottom of frame to achieve Flat aspect ratio.

Pillar-Boxed Example Image

Full HD frame inside Flat aspect ratio frame, with borders on the sides.

Cropped Scope Example Image

Already letter-boxed Full HD frame blown up to 2048 width, showing area to be cropped at top and bottom of frame to achieve Scope aspect ratio.

We don’t do any re-framing when we crop, so you should verify your framing is generally within the “safe areas”, or output your project in the Flat (1998 x 1080) or Scope (2048 x 858) dimensions listed before sending it to us.

For other frame rates and/or frame dimensions:

We can create your DCP from a source that does not conform to the above, within the following restrictions:

Frame rate: 23.976, 23.97, 25 or 48 frames per second.

Frame dimensions: width greater than 2048 or height greater than 1080, up to what’s generally considered 4K resolution, but keep in mind the final aspect ratio must be 1:1.85 for Flat or 1:2.39 for Scope, the final DCP will be a 2K DCP, and any source material not conforming to the Flat or Scope aspect ratios will have to be cropped or letter/pillar boxed.

Delivery

The best way to deliver your movie to us for encoding is as a full-quality Quicktime or AVI file on a USB drive. We recommend using a lossless video codec, such as UT, Logarith, Huffyuv or MSU, but ProRes or Cineform are also fine. Please send a copy, not your master, as once we have created your DCP we will wipe the drive and return it to you with only your DCP on it.