“Busy as a Dee” – as in DCP

I’m still riding the inspiration from smashing my fundraiser goals thanks to the incredible generosity of so many – you guys rock! And I’m going to need all of it as the new clip will be screened in the “Digital Films in Production” segment. There was neither time nor money (it costs about $12,000 to transfer 2 minutes of footage) to transfer to 15/70mm IMAX film.

But fortunately, GSCA this year has a digital section. However, this will be in a digital multiplex venue, so no DVD or Blu-ray or plug in your laptop. I need something called a “DCP” as in “Digital Cinema Package”. This is how Hollywood is distributing films to all the tens of thousands of digital screens in your local multiplex.

A DCP, it turns out, it a very complicated thing. It’s not something you can convert or “save as” or “render out” of your software program. In the hundreds of pages of documentation, most indie and low-budget filmmakers just assume that door is closed. But it’s not.

Enterprising folks online – partially driven by Red camera productions and by low-budget 3D filmmakers, have improved some open-source tools for creating a package. Sure, there is a software package you can buy to make a DCP easily (called, of course EasyDCP). If you’ve got $3000 dollar or so for it and few utilities. Or you can pay a post house double that to have them do it.

But the open source tools are totally free – and yes there is catch. They are mostly command line utilities adapted to Mac or Windows with various kludgy parts that often crash or don’t work as hoped. Plus, the one step that has a GUI interface generates older legacy DCP packages which don’t play in a number of digital theaters. So to make that package, means editing/writing code (in XML) by hand.

Fortunately, I found a good overview by an enteprising guy in Finland who’s blazed the trail. It took about 15 hours to get my first one done as lots of errors and issues popped up. All the filmmakers I know that have often given up in frustration, but my “wasted” years in the information technology field really come handy with stuff like this.

The new clip with a few more seconds of footage is currently being turned into a DCP as I write this. If I get an okay to show this clip locally, I will let you know!

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