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April 30, 2019
by Evelyn Lee
What Are DCPs? Do I Need One?
As much as we hate to admit it, we live in a truly digital landscape now. And with all the advancements in technology, so much of what we’re familiar with changes. One of the things filmmakers now have to deal with is DCP creation. Most hear this for the first time after getting accepted to a festival that requires one for screening.
So, what is a DCP?
DCP stands for Digital Cinema Package. Simply put, it’s the digital version of a 35mm film print.
More specifically, a DCP is a collection of all the digital files used to store and convey digital audio, cinema, and data streams (including subtitles) for the cinema. Each file is important to your movie playing, looking, and sounding perfectly.
Why do I need one?
Most movie houses now have digital projection, so you’ll need a DCP in order for your film to screen.
Some festivals will require a DCP if you’re accepted and expected to screen your movie. Read all the directions and rules of each festival very carefully to know what you’ll need in preparation.
If you decided to self-distribute your movie into a paying movie theatre like I did for my documentary, you’ll also need a DCP. Personally, whether you choose to do this or not, I recommend including DCP creation into your overall budget. You never know when you’ll need one, and it’s always good to be prepared ahead of time.
Some Helpful Tips
When you set out to make a movie, you want to make the best movie you can. And your movie deserves the best DCP quality. Before you set out to create a DCP, do your research.
If you live in major cities like NYC or LA, there are a number of post-production houses that will offer professional, top quality DCP creation services for a great price. Look up as many post houses as possible, get in touch, compare their pricing and turnaround times, and see which one gives you the best deal for your budget. Always weigh your options before you choose one. And don’t do it last minute!
I would advise against using DIY programs. Unless you actually do know how to create a DCP and have what you need to do it, you could risk doing it wrong. It sounds great initially because it would save you money, but there’s no guarantee. It’s much better to be safe than sorry.
And on top of great picture quality, make sure your sound quality is good! Sound quality can make or break your film, and poor sound will even distract from your picture. Make sure everything is in the best condition before you send it out for DCP creation.
If you would like to qualify for Oscars® consideration like I did, make sure to check out the rules in the proper categories.
Need help with film distribution? Get in touch!