The Final Step - Digital Cinema Projection - DCPs created with OpenDCP

The last step onto the Big Screen

digital projection

The very last step for post production of a digital cinema project is typically packing the finished film into a DCI compliant DCP ( Wikipedia: Digital Cinema Package). This is THE standard playback format for video servers and is used in pretty much every digital projection cinema nowadays. While this last step sounds rather straightforward and simple, people regularly turn pale when they learn that post houses charge several thousands of dollars (USD) and upwards for creating a DCP of a clip that is not even a minute long. For a long time there has been no way to produce a DCP without paying that ransom. For some time. anxious rebels tried to find alternatives with their own tools and work-flows but the result was mostly a solution for those very few who participated in the efforts themselves and could operate the command-line tools (like Digital Cinema Tools).

Open DCP

OpenDCP

But then there was light at the end of the Tunnel: Terrence Meiczinger's efforts with OpenDCP finally made DCP creation accessible, affordable and understandable for everyone. His free open source software suite with intuitive GUI does everything that commercial software - costing several thousand dollars - can do:

  • JPEG2000 encoding from 8/12/16-bit images
  • 2K/4K
  • support all major framerates (up to HFR)
  • Full 3D support
  • Cross Platform (Linux, Mac and Windows Builds available)
  • Open Source (GNU GPL v3)

We talked to Terrence Meiczinger to learn more:

How/When/Why did you decide on starting the OpenDCP development?

I'm a part owner of a movie theater and in late 2009 we completed our switch to digital. One of things we wanted to do is make a custom digital policy trailer to explain our 3D system. I started doing some investigation in early 2010 and at the time there were very few options for creating DCPs. Dolby and DVS Clipster were $20,000US. EasyDCP and DoRemi's CineAsset were somewhere around $5000US, all well beyond our budget. I then looked at having a post house do the conversion and they wanted upwards of $2000US to convert our 30 second policy trailer. At this point, I decided to look into doing it myself and after some google searches came across this thread - which started it all.

A lot of people had been working to piece together a workflow using a bunch of different tools. After some trial and error I was able to get a working DCP, but it was far from an easy task. One of the weak links was the opencinematools program to create the XML files for the DCPs. It was great start, but the developer had moved onto other projects and development was halted, leaving bugs and missing features. So, one weekend in September 2010, I decided to tackle writing a new application to take care of the XML creation and a day or two later, the first version of OpenDCP was born. A few weeks later, I added a tool to simplify the jpeg2000 encoding and after that the ability to create the MXF files. It kept growing from there.

Can you tell us a bit about your background and dayjob?

I have a degree in Electrical Engineering and worked for various companies in the telecommunications field. I primarily focus on developing test automation tools. Currently, I'm at a small startup developing the next generation of networking equipment for datacenters.

What are your future plans for OpenDCP? Or do you have plans for a different project?

OpenDCP was originally based on what I personally needed and development was driven by that. Now, with more users, I try and focus on things other people find useful. I don't have an official release schedule of features or anything, many times things I do are whatever interests me at the moment. I don't get a lot of time to work on OpenDCP, maybe a couple hours a month, so much of the time I try and work on things I can get completed in those short bursts. Some things I would like to get to are adding multi-reel support in the GUI, increase encoding performance, and implement a new GUI design to simplify the process while still retaining the flexibility of the current design. I don't have any plans to add more projects to my plate. :-)

Are there other people involved in OpenDCP development or is it just you?

It's pretty much just myself doing development. Occasionally, somebody will submit a code fix. I get some help in other ways, like testing, suggestions, clarification of specifications, and many people have done a nice job of creating guides on how to create DCPs

Has the OpenDCP release ever gotten you a paid job or project that you wouldn't have gotten without OpenDCP?

I've had several offers from people and companies looking to develop digital cinema related projects, but I haven't ever taken on any of them. However, I've been able to use many of the things I've learned while developing OpenDCP in my day jobs. For example, early on in OpenDCP, I decided to try CMake to handle the cross-platform compiling. At one of the companies I worked, they did a lot of cross-compiling of their product and they had these convoluted hand created makefiles and compilation directives. It was an absolute nightmare and it was many thousands of lines of code. I decided it was a perfect fit for CMake and in a few weeks we had everything ported over. We ended up with something like 80 lines of CMake code and reduced nearly all of the compilation directives.

Derivates

Another DCP creation software that is derived from parts of the OpenDCP codebase is DVD-o-matic. The software's title puts emphasis on the ability to import VOB (directly from DVD) or M2TS files (from Blu-Ray) to create DCPs.

Using OpenDCP

Danny Lacey created an in depth video taking you through every step from converting your film with OpenDCP to viewing it in an actual digital cinema projection theatre.



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9 Comments

4 years ago
Carl Hetherington

Hi,

I'm Carl (author of DVD-o-matic), thanks for the link; I should perhaps point out that DVD-o-matic is pretty badly named and can in fact take any input file that FFmpeg (http://ffmpeg.org/) can cope with (which is almost everything...) I'm always happy to receive mail about anything that DVD-o-matic is doing badly (or even well!)

Thanks
Carl

4 years ago
Sebastian

Hi Carl, great to have you here on the matter!

Would you be open to changing the DVD-o-matic name to something else? I am sure the community would be able to come up with some crowd sourced ideas or directions in a big brain storm :)

Regards Sebastian

4 years ago
Carl Hetherington

Hi Sebastian

I would definitely be up for changing DVD-o-matic's name ... any suggestions gratefully received!

Regards, Carl

4 years ago
Jehan

Actually is it a reference to a wash o'matic, shared laundry machine companies? If so, I'm actually not sure everyone gets the reference (I had to search the web myself to be sure that existed). Also anyway even by getting it (maybe?), I'm not sure I *fully* get it. You don't "wash" DVDs, nor DCP, do you?…

Maybe simply "DCP-maker" or some basic/stupid name like this? That's indeed not a fancy name, but you are sure that everybody gets it.
Then again, if you are set on targeting only DCP, that's ok. But if in some future, a new standard arises and replaces DCP (and now technology's getting so fast, it can actually be pretty soon), you might want to support this kind of output as well. And suddenly your program would be badly named again. So you might want some more neutral or generic name ("The DCP maker" can still be a subtitle, thus easier to change). Like "Cinema4All" or "Cinema4U", which emphasizes on the fact it brings "cinema technology" (= DCP now) to everyone.

I don't know, just random ideas. That does not look that original though. Maybe someone else can come up with better ideas.

4 years ago
Jerry

Hi Carl,
This might be a basic question, but we're an NGO who have a film in DCP format but we need to convert it into DVD format to play at simple locations not full blown theatres.
How do we do this without having to go to a production house to pay 1500USD to convert it??
Surely we can upload into Final Cut and export it into a different file format no?

Any suggestions are very welcome!
Jerry

2 months ago
Sudhanshu Soni

Hi Carl,

I am about to start my production studio to produce dcp's to run in indian cinema theaters and multiplexes. I am looking for your experienced advice about it.

As you might be aware in India, E-Cinema means Interop DCP's are used.

My purpose is to create a perfect source Video/Audio, to further edit or VFX it, and finally create the E-Cinema interop DCP from that...)

These are some points to decide on what kind of Camera setup i will require :-

What resolution is correct (2K/4k)?
What Frame Rate is correct to further create 24 fps Slow Motion scenes in Post Production (30 fps/60 fps/120 fps)?
What codec is correct (H.264/H.265/AVCHD/XAVC-S)?
What bit rate is correct while recording the video (50 Mbps/100 Mbps/ 200Mbps)?
What color bit depth is correct (8-bit, 10-bit or 12 bit per channel)?
What Chroma Sampling/Subsampling is correct for further VFX and green screen chroma keying (4:4:4/4:4:2/4:2:2/4:2:0)?
What would be the correct external video recorder system? (If required)

These are some points to decide on what kind of Sound setup i will require :-

What about the audio format? (6 Channel, 7 channel or 8 channel?/Surround Sound or Digital Dolby?)
What mic would be good for on-set sound effects recording? (e.g. wind sound, shoe tap sound, clapping sound, rain sound, gun shots sound etc..)
What mic would be good for on-set Dialogue recording?
What mic would be good for background music recording?
What would be the correct external sound recorder system?

These are some points regarding the post production :-

Video :-
What codec is correct for video editing? (Any need to trans-code/encode the source files to any other codec before beginning the editing)
Is it possible to upres the FHD file to 2K/4K? (This point is important as generally camera's allow high frame rates like 120 fps and 240 fps at FHD or HD resolutions only)
What Color Gamut values are correct for final footage? (As further the DCP will be created for Big Cinema Screens)
What Contrast values are correct for final footage? (As further the DCP will be created for Big Cinema Screens)
What Brightness and Sharpness values are correct for final footage? (As further the DCP will be created for Big Cinema Screens)

Audio :-
What would be the correct format (PCM Wav/Digital Dolby AC3/Surround Sound AAC)?
What would be the correct channel setup (2.1/5.1/6.1/7.1)?
What would be the correct bits per channel (12 bits/24 bits/48 bits)?
What would be the correct sample rate (24 Khz/48 Khz/96 Khz)?
What would be the correct channel allocation for sound effects (L/R/C/LFE/Lss/Rss/Lrs/Rrs)? (7.1 Channel System)
What would be the correct channel allocation for dialogue (L/R/C/LFE/Lss/Rss/Lrs/Rrs)? (7.1 Channel System)
What would be the correct channel allocation for Background Music (L/R/C/LFE/Lss/Rss/Lrs/Rrs)? (7.1 Channel System)

Please answer the above queries and help me proceed further!!!

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