Saturday, January 23, 2010

Making a DCP, post 1

The next phase in Tower 37's exciting life is its conversion into a Digital Cinema Package (DCP). For those who don't know, DCPs are the distribution formats for digital cinema. You can think of them as the replacements of 35mm prints. Those fancy digital projectors showing all sorts of movies at the multiplexes these days take DCPs as input. The DCPs are shipped on hard drives which can be easily plugged into the projectors for complete digital delivery.

Of course I already have Tower 37 as a lossless HD QuickTime file, complete with 5.1 surround sound. You'd think (hope?) that going from one digital format to another would be as easy as, say, converting AIFF audio files to mp3 (aka "ripping" music tracks). But guess what? It's only easy when someone has written, compiled, tested, and released software for doing so. Although I have known this as long as I've worked on computers, it's easy to forget since I rarely encounter a media file these days that I cannot convert perfectly with one of many free software packages.

There are some commercial DCP-makers out there (easyDCP and Wraptor are two), but they are fairly expensive. And, damn it, if we're really just talking about some fancy conversions to a non-proprietary format, there should be something free and available for everyone to use. So yes, I've grown attached to finding an Open Source solution.

Big props so far to the people behind asdcplib and OpenCinemaTools, and the users on the Red user forums who have published software and instructions that they have used/created while traversing this bumpy path. But it's all still so underdeveloped that I've had to recompile stuff locally, make fixes in build scripts, and code my own little process to encode a brief excerpt of Tower 37 into a DCP. I'm hoping to see the test on Tuesday at a local theater, and then to try it out on the whole film if all looks good.

I promise to post a thorough guide if we succeed!

1 comment:

Lucas Martell said...

Can't wait to hear how it goes! I didn't even realize there was an open source solution. I always thought it was a "licensed" technology like Dolby.