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  1. #1 Digital Cinema Package 
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    Does anyone know of a tutorial floating around out there about how to put together a Digital Cinema Package for theatrical exhibition?

    I've heard great things about QuVis Wraptor, but there is the tiny problem being that I don't own a Mac. I run a PC Adobe CS3/Avid Xpress system. Can I make a DCP only using the tools available for PC?
    Last edited by Leerafel; 08-02-2009 at 07:17 PM.
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  2. #2  
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    Oh wow, I think I actually figured out how to do it on my own.
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  3. #3  
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    Could you please tell me how ? I've only heard of the Mac solution. Qube's solution is quite expensive on the PC side.
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  4. #4  
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    QuVis has gone bust, so please do share your solution.
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  5. #5 How to make DCP on a windows PC - STEP 1 
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    Oh yeah, I'd be glad to! I've been trying to figure this out for a few months, and as I'm sure you know, it is a major hassle because you sometimes don't even know WHAT you should be searching for. Just running a search for DCP does you practically no good whatsoever.

    Alright, here is the skinny:

    You can probably find other work-arounds if you don't have the specific software that I mention, but these are the tools that I used to create my first successful DCP:

    UPDATE: Chris informed me about a piece of Windows software called CineAsset, and I've been checking that out. It seems to run great on XP and Vista, 64 or 32 bit, and it lets you pretty much bypass practically everything covered in this tutorial! I have not been able to test my DCP I created within CineAsset, but Chris has warned that he has had trouble with getting the correct colors to show up. I also don't know the cost difference between CinneAsset vs EasyDCP.



    HARDWARE
    • AMD Phenom Quad Core 64 bit w/7GB RAM running Vista Home Premium (64 bit version)
    • and also a separate system (my laptop) running an AMD Turion 64 w/1GB RAM with Windows XP Professional (32 bit).
    • NOTE: CERTAIN STEPS IN THE PROCESS REQUIRE 32 BIT WINDOWS XP BECAUSE OF SOFTWARE COMPATABILITY, WHILE NO STEP REQUIRES A 64 BIT SYSTEM. I USED MY 64 BIT SYSTEM ONLY TO SPEED RENDERING TIMES AND MULTITASK PROCESSES TO SPEED UP MY WORKFLOW. ACTUAL PACKAGING OF THE DCP MUST BE DONE ON 32 BIT WINDOWS XP, THOUGH IT MAY BE POSSIBLE ON 32 BIT VISTA.
    • UPDATE - I just got it to work ONCE on Vista 64! Unfortunately, I can't get it to work again.
    • UPDATE - Okay I can get it to run consistently by changing its compatability to "Windows 98/ME" but there are still glitchy problems with importing things causing it to crash.
    • UPDATE - The folks over at Fraunhofer have been able to fix the Vista 64 problem with v1.2.2 of EasyDCP, however as of this update, it is not "published" meaning that you'll have to email them and ask for it specifically untill it (or later versions) officially becomes the "current" version. I have successfully compiled a working DCP with relatively few problems using v1.2.2. The only issue I've encountered is occasional random freeze-ups causing you to have to CTRL+ALT+DELETE and close it from the Task Manager.
    SOFTWARE
    That SHOULD be all you need.

    OVERVIEW/WORKFLOW
    STEP 1 - Get your digital master.
    STEP 2 - Convert your digital master to a .DPX image sequence using After Effects.
    STEP 3 - Separate your audio into mono tracks and save individually as 24 Bit PCM uncompressed .WAV files.
    STEP 4 - Combine audio tracks and DPX image sequence using EasyDCP to create DCI compliant XML and MXF files.
    STEP 5 - Use special formatting software and drivers to create a Ext2 formatted storage device within windows, and copy DCP files onto Ext2 formatted media.
    STEP 6 - Make friends with a booth manager who works at a digital cinema equiped theater, and he/she can help you test your DCP on the theater's equipment.
    STEP 1 - PREPING VIDEO FOOTAGE

    All you are really doing in this phase is making your digital master "print." If you already have your master, then go to the next step, but there may be some caveats for ideal file formats.

    Check out the DCI Standards to find out the exact size constraints, but for simplicity, I'll just use my standard generic 2k settings. Everything from this point out should be understood as being 2048x1080 square pixels even though it is a kinda goofy 1.89 aspect ratio. Ah well. You'll have to fiddle with the different combinations for your individual projects. Just make sure the final output has no more than 2048 horizontal pixels, and no more than 1556 vertical pixels and that it is 24fps progressive, and whatever setting you use must be used throughout the process.

    I used Premier Pro CS3 for this step, but I don't care what software you use--just export your project as a .MOV (Quicktime) using PNG compression, which I'm told is pretty much lossless. If you have a different preference, fine, but i know that compression works great.

    IT MUST BE EXPORTED AS 24fps PROGRESSIVE or it won't work for your DCP.

    NOTE: You don't actually have to export the entire movie. For example, you can break it down into several "reels" if you wish so you can work with smaller chunks. It doesn't all need to be one video file. If you are doing a short, I'd stick to one "reel."

    Check the clip and make sure it looks right. You know, make sure that it doesn't look funny because of a mistake converting between framerates, or that the aspect ratio isn't all screwed up. You should be ready for step 2.
    Last edited by Leerafel; 08-05-2009 at 06:44 PM.
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  6. #6 How to make a DCP on a Windows PC - STEP 2 
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    STEP 2 - PREPING VIDEO FOR DCP

    I have heard and read so much jargon surrounding the requirements for DCP, but really, it is cake. You just have to know what settings you are really looking for.

    What you are doing in this step is converting your footage into DPX format, which is basically the standard format if you were to convert film to digital for post. UPDATE: What I KNOW about DPX is that I don't know dick about it. HAHA. You just need to know that it works for this workflow.

    NOTE: If you already have your digital master and it is in a different format than what STEP 1 calls for, you don't need to re-compile it. You can convert to DPX from just about any format. Just make sure you aren't working from an already lossy compression like H.264 or MPEG4 unless it is up to BluRay standards.

    NOTE FOR RED USERS: If you are working with a project shot on RED, just use the RED tools provided to compile to DPX. Just use the same settings used in After Effects below.

    Alright, so open After Effects. Click COMPOSITION>NEW COMPOSITION or just do CTRL "N"

    Match the composition settings to you digital master. Heres my settings:

    WIDTH: 2048
    HIGHTH: 1080
    PIXEL ASPECT RATIO: SQUARE PIXELS
    FRAME RATE: 24 FRAMES PER SECOND (**This is absolutely required**)
    RESOLUTION: Full
    START TIME: 00;00;00;00
    DURRATION: (put the duration of your clip here. Actually, you are probably fine if you just leave it at 0. Dunno. I put the length of my clip in.)

    Okay, you have a new composition made, and it is ALMOST to DCP standards.
    • Go to FILE>PROJECT SETTINGS and change the DEPTH under COLOR SETTINGS to 32 Bits Per Channel (Float).
    • Import your digital master. Now drag it from your project box and drop it in the monitor for Composition 1.
    • Click COMPOSITION>ADD TO RENDER QUEUE
    • Find the Render Queue. It should be a tab in the composition/timeline frame, but it could be different if you are using a custom workspace.
    Alright, here are the settings to use:

    RENDER SETTINGS: BEST SETTINGS (its the default, so you shouldn't have to change it)
    LOG: ERRORS ONLY (I don't care what you put here. It is for debugging. It doesn't effect anything about your actual output file)










    OUTPUT MODULE:
    • Click on the little arrow to change the Output Module settings. Choose "CUSTOM"
    • Select "CINEON SEQUENCE" under format
    • Move to the COLOR MANAGEMENT TAB at the top.
    • Under Color Management, click on CINEON SETTINGS
    • Make sure it is set to "FULL RANGE" and "8-bpc (0-255)" That should be the default so you shouldn't have to change it... in theory.
    • At the bottom, select "DPX" as the file format.
    • Click "Ok" to close that window
    • Click "Ok" on the Output Module settings.
    OUTPUT TO:


    You need to select a destination for the DPX image sequence. You will need a TON of space. I mean a freaking TON. When I exported my 2k clip that is only about 6 or 7 minutes long, it was 70 gigabytes. It might be good to figure that you'll need approximately 10GB for each minute of footage. That is why it would be wise to break down a feature film into ten minute long "reels" rather than trying to export a 9 to 12 Terabyte DPX sequence. Savvy? The actual DCP will be TINY in comparison, so don't worry too much, but you are going to need a shit ton of space.

    NOTE: I am really not familiar with the DPX format, and there may be a way to get the file sizes down and have it still work for the DCP package. If anyone on the REDUSER.net forums is more familiar with using DPX and CINEON, please give me your tips and advice.

    Also, this is an image sequence--not a stand alone movie file. You don't want to tell AE to export it to your desktop, or "My Documents" or something without first CREATING A FOLDER FOR THE IMAGES TO BE CONTAINED IN!!! I created a folder on my external drive named "DPX SEQUENCE" and had the image sequence exported there, nicely contained.

    You don't need to change the file name from the default. You really just don't want to mess up the "[#####]" part of it. If you really want to, you can change the file name in front of the number part, but you MUST leave the number part intact and just before the prefix.

    You are ready to render! Find the button, and let 'er fly!

    CONCLUDING NOTES and TIPS FOR STEP 2: The set up should be pretty quick. The rendering is going to take a while. Also, as stated earlier, it will take a lot of space. A nice thing about rendering in AE is that you can pause the render process. Even if you click "STOP" it will create a new item in the render queue that will basically just pick up rendering where it left off, and since it is an image sequence rather than a stand alone video file, you don't have to start from the beginning anyway!

    This can be helpful if you only need to re-do frames 274893 through 354959 instead of having to re render the ENIRE THING over again. You can also transfer the frames if you are running out of space. You just have to make sure that they all end up together in a folder when you are ready to make the actual DCP. If you didn't already break down your feature film into "reels" you can still just do it at this point. Create folders named "reel1" "reel2" "reel3" etc, and just cut and paste the appropriate frames into those reel folders as the entire image sequence is being rendered to a general "pool" folder. But it can be tricky to figure out where to make the "splice" because it can be tricky to view DPX images in a timely manner. That is where DJV Viewer comes in handy.

    It allows you to view DPX images and sequences! You don't even have to wait for the image sequence to finish rendering. You can view whatever frames have been rendered in the sequence, even as more frames continue to pop into the folder while AE is rendering. It is definitely handy for checking to make sure everything looks right on the fly without having to find out after the fact that you just wasted hours of your time on the previous render. It can also be useful if you want to just experiment with the different DXP settings to learn what they do.

    One final note concerning the size of DXP files: There MAY be a different route you can take. EasyDCP will allow you to open DXP sequences AS WELL AS JPEG2000 sequences with the CORRECT FORMATTING. JPEG2000 image sequences should be MUCH smaller than the DPX sequences, but I haven't experimented with it too much. From what I have read, it doesn't seem like you can just export as a normal JPEG2000 sequence with your typical production tools and have it work right. If you want to experiment with it, you should be able to easily export as JPEG2000 image sequence from Quicktime Pro 7, but it has the wrong extension. It uses .jp2 instead of .j2c, which is what EasyDCP requires. I'm currently experimenting with simply changing the extension to .j2c to see if EasyDCP will accept it. UPDATE: No, EasyDCP will not accept .jp2 image sequences that have simply had their extention changed to .j2c, however I forgot to mention that it WILL accept TIFF sequences. (Thanks "M Most" for the reminder!)
    Last edited by Leerafel; 08-04-2009 at 12:49 PM.
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  7. #7 How to make a DCP on a Windows PC - STEP 3 & 4 
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    STEP 3 - Prepping Audio

    This was a lot less complicated than it originally seemed. I did all of it in Adobe Audition 1.5, which was the precursor to Adobe Soundbooth. I have both, but I prefer Audition for a lot of things. I have a hard time doing what I really want in Soundbooth. You could probably do the same things in a free program like Audacity, but I haven't tried it.

    Just get the stereo soundtrack directly from your digital master, whether you import it from Premier, or whether you open the digital master (with video included) into Soundbooth directly. Taking it from the digital master will HELP ensure (not guarantee...) that it will line up correctly, and opening it this way also allows the file to have some necessary meta-data, including that it was edited on a 24p timeline.

    NOTE: This meta-data may not matter. Haha. But if you have problems getting your audio into EasyDCP after taking the audio from a source that isn't directly associated with the digital master, then that could be why. I don't really know. I haven't tried it any other way.
    • Anyway, so you open the audio.
    • Split all of the tracks into mono. In Soundbooth, you go FILE>EXPORT>CHANNELS TO MONO FILES
    • You can close the original file now. Or leave it open, I don't care. Soundbooth should have automatically imported your new mono tracks. For stereo, it is easy. It has the original file name plus _L or _R to let you know which track it is. For multi track surround sound, I don't have a clue. I haven't worked with it. It shouldn't be THAT different from splitting stereo to mono. Just get each channel as a mono track, and make sure each track is labeled for the appropriate channel for later on.
    • Now, just save each track as a good old fashioned mono PCM .WAV file with the following settings:
        • COMPRESSOR: UNCOMPRESSED
        • SAMPLE RATE: 48000
        • SAMPLE TYPE: 24 Bit
        • CHANNELS: MONO
    Thats it! I spent a TON of time trying to figure out all of this nonsense about Broadcast WAV files, and how they are supposedly so much different than normal consumer WAV files, and as it turns out it is simply an uncompressed WAV that CAN have extra meta data intact. It also needs to be 24 Bit audio. 16 Bit audio is supposed to be supported in the DCI specifications, but I haven't had any luck getting 16 bit audio into EasyDCP. If there IS any thing different that a WAV needs to be DCP compliant, EasyDCP takes care of it. Just take your separate audio tracks and save them as Mono, 24 Bit, Uncompressed .WAVs (usually referred to as PCM .WAVs, but not always, so don't be confused!)

    STEP 4 - CREATE DCP FILES

    If you followed the previous steps, you should have no problem importing them into EasyDCP. Here is where it is necessary to have a 32 Bit operating system. Or just XP. I'm not sure. All I know is that EasyDCP fails when I try to launch it on my Vista 64 Bit rig. I've tried all sorts of things to get it to work, but it just doesn't.** It works great on my XP Professional 32 Bit laptop though. It is also available for Mac, if that helps any of you out.

    UPDATE - I can now get EasyDCP.exe to run in Vista 64 without crashing by switching its compatability to "Windows 98 / Windows ME", however it seems to crash whenever I try to import the audio tracks.
    UPDATE - The folks over at Fraunhofer have been able to fix the Vista 64 problem with v1.2.2 of EasyDCP, however as of this update, it is not "published" meaning that you'll have to email them and ask for it specifically untill it (or later versions) officially becomes the "current" version. I have successfully compiled a working DCP with relatively few problems using v1.2.2. The only issue I've encountered is occasional random freeze-ups causing you to have to CTRL+ALT+DELETE and close it from the Task Manager.
    EasyDCP - EasyDCP is available to download as a DEMO only. It will function just as well as the full version, but it will leave a watermark on your DCP. You can call the company up and buy a full license for the software for about 2000 bones to remove the watermark. The software is INCREDIBLY user friendly and straightforward. If you have followed my previous steps, everything should be compatible. I probably don't need to explain how to use it, but I will anyway.

    Open DCP and create a new 2k 24p project. I would recommend using the interop (newest DCP standard) settings rather than the SMPTE (old DCP standard). If you are trying to project on a system that has not updated to the interop protocols, then you will want to go with SMPTE.

    Import visual track. EasyDCP will recognize the image sequence as a single visual track, not individual image files, so no worries there.

    Import audio track. EasyDCP will ask for each individual mono channel, and will interpret the separate files as a single audio track. Nice. So browse and find your left track in the "L" marked field, and then do your right track, and then click okay.

    Drag and drop your imported tracks into the "REEL" box thingy. Click "Make DCP". Choose a folder for it to put all of the individual XML and MXF files into, and click "Ok". BAM. You are good to go. Well, kinda. You still have to get your Digital Cinema Package onto the "package" part.
    Last edited by Leerafel; 08-05-2009 at 06:04 PM.
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  8. #8 How to make a DCP on a Windows PC - STEP 5 & 6 
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    STEP 5 - COMPLETING THE PACKAGE

    Okay, you now have to get the handful of XML and MXF files onto an Ext2 formatted hard drive, or solid state media. Actually, it doesn't have to be Ext2, it could also be Ext3, which might work better in certain situations. More on that later.

    You need Linux. OOOOOooor, you need software that can format a drive to Ext2 (or 3) within Windows. Or Mac. This is not a Mac tutorial. Don't ask me questions about how to do it on a Mac.

    I used Paragon Partition Manager. Personal edition will cost you $40. I figure there has got to be some freeware that does the same thing, but I sure couldn't find it.

    You also will need a storage device to be your DCP. If you are talking about a short film, you can EASILY fit it onto a thumb drive. My 6 minute clip is only 2.23GB. You DON'T need some fancy hard drive. All the DCP systems in theaters have USB 2.0 slots, and they copy the entire "film" onto their high speed RAID arrays. You don't need something with a high read speed or even need to worry about it because it isn't going to PLAY off of your media. You just want something that is going to be pretty reliable. My DCP for this first clip is a Wal-Mart $20 SD card. You can use any USB 2.0 media that can be formatted to Linux file-systems.
    • Format the entire drive to Ext2 or 3. I had to go with Ext3. I'll explain in a bit.
    Now how to get the DCP files onto your DCP if you don't have Linux!? Ext2 Installable File System (Ext2IFS v1.11a) will do just the trick. It is a freeware driver that will allow your windows system to recognize Linux file-systems, and allow you to read and write to them just as you can with FAT32 or NTFS.
    • Install EXT2IFS
    • Check to see if your PC now recognizes your Ext2 formatted media. You might have to restart your system. For some reason with my SD card, I had to go with Ext3 for my system to see it.
    • Copy all of the files that were created by EasyDCP from their folder onto the drive completely naked--meaning not in a folder--just right at the root of the drive.
    NOTE: I DID try copying them over being completely naked myself, but it did not seem to have any effect on the DCP.
    SUB NOTE: Not really.
    SUB SUB NOTE: Okay, Yes really. ;-) My AC doesn't work that well.
    There! You have a DCP! But how do you find out if it worked?

    STEP 6 - TESTING

    I haven't yet found software that will let me watch my DCP. The best thing is to have an actual Digital Cinema projection system available for you to fool around with. Here is how to find one...
    • Get a haircut. Just humor me.
    • Find a theater that you KNOW is equipped with digital cinema.
    • Show up in the morning or early afternoon in NICE CLOTHES. Preferably a nice suite.
    • Have business cards in your front pocket of your shirt that say you are a PRODUCER, a DIRECTOR, EDITOR, or a DIRECTOR of PHOTOGRAPHY.
    NOTE: Don't lie to them! What business to you have trying to make a DCP if you aren't one of those! This isn't a "how to con the theater" instructional! I just know this works because that's what I did.
    • Meet as many of the employees as you can on your way to the customer service desk.
    • Introduce yourself to the person at the information desk. Tell them you are whatever your business card says you are, and hand them your card. Be sure to smile. Tell them that you need to rent one of their screens to show some potential investors some of your work, but you need to test your Digital Cinema Package, and you'd like to talk to the BOOTH MANAGER. They may introduce you to him/her, or at least give you his/her number, but then again, they might not. If not, just move on and talk to a different employee. I had to go through several before I found who I needed--granted, I didn't know that it was the BOOTH MANAGER that I really need to see. I was just trying to find the house manager.
    NOTE: If you aren't looking for potential investors, then you don't have to say that. You can tell them that you want to rent their screen to show your latest film to a limited audience or something. The important thing is that the employee you are talking to (especially if it is the manager) gets the impression that they should help you because you will be one of their patrons if you can get your DCP working. Do please try to be honest though!

    Once you get in contact with the booth manager, introduce yourself and hand him your card, smile, and tell him about your project and what you want to do. Ask if he is free anytime between screenings to help you test your DCP, and set up a time. When you come for the test, give him the DCP and he'll handle the rest. He'll probably ask you if it is "Scope" or "Mono/Flat" (Scope meaning "CinemaScope," meaning that is squished and will need to be digitally or optically stretched out wide to show the correct aspect ratio, and "Mono" or "Flat" meaning square pixels--requires nothing special in order to be screened properly. You can switch easily back and forth between "scope" processing and "mono" processing right there in the projector, so it isn't a big deal.

    The guy that I'm working with right now at my local theater has been great. Really cool guy. I can call him up any time and set up an appointment to come in and test my DCPs when he has some spare time. Just be mindful that he's on the job, so you don't want to keep him occupied for too long. When performing tests, stick to short clips, not feature length!

    I find that usually people who are working at movie theaters LOVE movies, and they are at a theater because they WISH they were involved in making movies but they don't know how to "break into it", so most booth managers should be pretty thrilled to help you out, but don't take it for granted. House managers on the other hand can be snooty I find.

    WRAP UP

    I hope this guide has been helpful! This is the stuff I had to figure out the hard way through months of trial and error, so I hope it has saved some others some time! I'll try to update this as I find out new things, especially if I find a solution to the DPX size issue or find out how to make correctly formatted J2C image sequences. If anyone has any suggestions, let me know!
    Last edited by Leerafel; 08-04-2009 at 01:02 PM.
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  9. #9  
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    Quote Originally Posted by Jean-Charles Wolfarth View Post
    Could you please tell me how ? I've only heard of the Mac solution. Qube's solution is quite expensive on the PC side.
    Unfortunately, EasyDCP will cost you about 2000 bones to remove the watermark, and you NEED EasyDCP for my particular workflow, but a watermarked DCP is better than no DCP in my situation. From what I can tell, it isn't mainstream enough to have been "cracked" yet. I honestly don't mind paying for it since I intend to use it for commercial use.

    Plus, I figured that if people wanted to try to figure out a completely DIY way of making a DCP without using EasyDCP, this method at least provides you with a fully working DCP that could be reverse-engineered to educate one's self on its inner workings. Otherwise, you'd have to deal with trying to bootleg a highly secured studio encrypted one OR trying to translate the DCI Standards documents into practical-use language. Good luck with that! Haha.
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  10. #10  
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    Wow ! Thank you very much for your detailed guide ! I'll try it ! Thanks for taking your time !
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