What is the best way to submit my Digital Cinema Package?

Here is a closer look at the common tools of DCP

    A Digital Cinema Package, or DCP, is the new standard with which those in the arts and media industry choose to submit and receive their work. With the age of celluloid drawing to a close, the Digital Media revolution of the last 10 years, and media file sizes becoming bigger and bigger, companies involved in everything from post production and distribution all the way up to censors and quality submission need a uniform standard for the movement of data between them. Sending optical media such as CD or DVD, though lighter and more cost effective, was inefficient, small in capacity, prone to scratches and less recyclable. Of course the idea of submitting Hard Drives had been floating around but sending a bare drive was unthinkable, and without a Hard Drive enclosure standard in place, works would be submitted with a variety of connections and compatibility woes.

And so the Industry Standard of a Digital Cinema Package came to be. It requires formatting a Hard Drive with EXT2 or EXT3, which is normally done via Linux. On some occasions it can be a pen drive, but predominately it is a 3.5" SATA Hard Drive running at 7200RPM. This drive must be sent in a CRU DX115 carrier. Drive Capacity is largely a matter of choice and necessity; films can be split over multiple drives. These days you should be more than OK with a 500GB or 1TB hard disk.

A CRU DX115 carrier was originally designed for the military use, for rugged data transport, as well as the necessity of the sender and receiver having the same hardware to access the drive. Now the DX-115 is used primarily by the film industry in Digital-Cinema, or D-Cinema, for its proven reliability and sturdiness. Certain film festivals and facilities require this drive for DCP delivery and submission and it is highly recommended for feature films formatted in 4K, 3D or High Frame Rates. There are of course more parts to take into consideration when submitting to high-end receivers such as carry cases and portable access move docks, but we will get to that in a while.


 CRU-DataPort StorCase DataExpress DX115 DC Digital Cinema 6601-7100-0500 Carrier, SAS/SATA 3Gb/6Gb         The DX115 Carrier - The prefered Digital Media Caddy

With it's rugged steel and aluminum construction, the DX115 DC is a reliable and easy way to transport digital content. The DX115 DC boasts a unique “Auto Start” feature which allows the DX115 DC drive carriers to be automatically powered up seconds after the carrier has been installed, without having to push the on/off button.






Seagate BarraCuda (Desktop) ST500DM009 3.5" SATA 6Gb/s 500GB 7200rpm     
HDD or Hard Drive - 
Where your movie lives 

Of course, you are going to need something to put your work on. You'll need a 3.5inch or 2.5 inch SATA hard drive (or SSD) of any size, 7200RPM and we recommend a 500GB drive like this one. However, don't forget that the majority of receivers will require the Hard Drive to be formatted to EXT 3 (linux). We at SPAN can arrange this for you and then you can just install it into your DX115 carrier.



  CRU-DataPort DX115 MoveDock 6603-4073-0901 USB3 Adapter for DX115 SATA HD Carrier + PSU + EU power lead + USB3.0 cable     The MoveDock - Access whilst on the go

Primarily for the portable, the CRU® DX115 MoveDock is designed for quickly docking and accessing DX115 DC hard drive carriers. The MoveDock boasts a 25,000 insertion rating, which means it can withstand over 25,000 insertion and ejection cycles–once every hour for over five years–without failure or signal degradation. Designed specifically for the installation of one DX115 Carrier, the DX115 MoveDock is an important component in the distribution of digital cinema files.
  Peli 1300 Protector Case 1300-000-110 Case with Foam - Black     Peli Case 1300- What you send your DCP (Carrier, HDD and MoveDock) in for Protection

Protection is next and for those who's livelyhood depends on successfully submitted work or is subject to long periods of transit, you will need to check out the PELI protection range. These high quality, protective cases offer safe transportation for fragile or expensive equipment and are the choice of professionals. We highly recommend the Peli 1300 range, available in many colours.
  Peli 1200 Protector Case 1200-000-110 Case with Foam - Black     Peli Case 1200- What you send your DCP (Carrier & Drive only) in for Protection

The same as the above  but this Peli Protection case is made for a smaller Digtal Cinema Package, containing just the Hard drive encased in the DX115 Carrier. Once again, these high quality, protective cases offer safe transportation for fragile or expensive equipment and are the choice of professionals. If your receiver only requests your work in a CRU DX115 Carrier, this is the choice for you.
  CRU-DataPort StorCase DataExpress DX115 DC Digital Cinema 6602-6500-0500 Frame, SAS/SATA 6Gb (with Auto-Start)     The DX115 5.25" Frame - Be able to accomodate DX115 on your Desktop

For those needing PC/Server access, the DX115 DC installs into any free 5.25 inch spare bay and designed specifically for digital cinema media on 2.5″ or 3.5″ SAS or SATA drives. Offering 6 Gbps performance when used with a 6 Gbps drive and host configuration, but it is also compatible with 3 Gbps drives and hosts. The DX115 DC also offers a new Host Activity LED feature which allows the choice of having the disk drive or the PCI host adapter control the Host Activity LED on the DX115 DC Frame. 
LaCie Rugged USB-C STFR1000800 USB3 HDD, USB-C 1TB     The LaCie Rugged External Drive - A portable External Drive for DCP (Mac Recommended)

The Rugged, Portable Hard Drive from LaCie is remarkably popular choice for Photo and Video Editors throughout the industry for their precious data. More and more, this drive is appearing in Post Production and it comes as no surprise that is have also become widely used in the submission of Digital Cinema Packages. Available in a multitude of sizes and capacities, LaCie have really made a name for themselves in the Apple Mac community for data storage and are a welcome alternative to CRU in the handling of DCP.
Need a more compact DCP Solution? Look no further than DCMini

CRU-DataPort DCmini Digital Cinema 6601-6600-0500 DCP Drive Cartridge for 2.5" SATA Drive, USB3

    DCMini Carrier - For a more Compact DCP Submission

If portability if key to your business, then you should opt for the DCMini range. Able to accomodate any sATA 2.5inch drive or SSD, these much smaller carriers are easier to transport, are upto a 25% cheaper operationally and can even be access just via a handy USB 3.0 slot - without need of an additional power source!
CRU-DataPort DCmini Digital Cinema 6603-6500-0500 DCP Adapter to fit DCmini into any DX115 Frame     The DCMini to DX115 Adapter - Can't afford to Upgrade? Just adapt...

The DCMini range can even fully intergrate with your existing DX115 setup (so no need for a complete transition of your current hardware whilst upgrading). To fit a DCMini carrier into the DX115 range, you just need the DCMini-to-DX115 Adapter - works with both the Movedock and Frame mentioned earlier and with no speed reduction in read or write.
CRU-DataPort DCmini Digital Cinema 3851-6650-00 DCP Hard Plastic Carrying Case for DCmini     The DCMini mini Drive Shipping Case - Keep your big ideas safe in this smaller case

The DCMini range even includes it's very own dedicated carry case. Reduce your distribution costs with the Mini Drive Shipping Case. This unique case weighs less than one pound and is smaller and cheaper to transfer than existing shipping units. The Mini Drive Shipping Case fits inside mail slots and easily holds a DCmini Cartridge and its USB cable. The custom foam interior keeps the content safe during shipping and handling.
And for those who need a Complete DCP Soultion...

CRU-DataPort DCP Kit 2 with 500GB 31331-4072-0001 DX115 DC Carrier with EXT3-formatted HDD + USB 3.0 MoveDock Adapter + USB 3.0 Cable, UK PSU, in Shipping Case with Custom Foam. 500GB    

DCP Kit 2 with 500GB EXT 3 HDD from CRU - The All-in-one solution for DCP distribution

The CRU DCP Kit 2 provides a more complete solution for your Digital Cinema Package needs. The included drive is pre-formatted with EXT3 as per ISDCF specifications. As well as this, the kit includes both a CRU DX115 MoveDock and a DX115 Carrier. The DCP Kit 2 is by far the most comprehensive and complete solution available for DCPs.


CRU-DataPort DCP Kit 1 with 500GB 31330-7100-0001 DX115 DC Carrier with EXT3-formatted HDD, in Shipping Case with Custom Foam 500GB     DCP Kit 1 with 500GB EXT 3 HDD  - The standard solution for DCP distribution

The new CRU DCP Kits provide a more submission based solution for your Digital Cinema needs. The newer, smaller, hard plastic shipping cases have custom designed foam and have undergone extensive drop testing to ensure they exceed industry standards. This Kit includes a 500GB pre-formatted EXT 3 HDD, encased in a DX115 CRU Carrier as per ISDCF specifications. Saving you both time and money.
CRU-DataPort DCmini Kit with 500GB 31330-6600-0001 DCP DCmini Cartridge with EXT3-formatted HDD, in Shipping Case with Custom Foam 500GB     The DCmini Kit with 500GB - The complete, compact solution for DCP distribution

The new CRU DCmini Kit provides a more complete solution for our Digital Cinema customers. The DCmini Kit arrives with a 500GB, pre-formatted EXT 3 (linux, as per ISDCF specifications) disk drive already encased in the DCMini carrier Cartridge. The custom made, hard plastic shipping case has custom designed foam and has undergone extensive drop testing to ensure it exceeds industry standards. The DCmini Kit also additional USB 3.0 Cable for portable access without the need of a MoveDock.





Should I Encrypt the contents of my DCP? What is a KDM?

Generally as a rule of thumb, Encrypted DCPs will not be accepted by most major Production/submission facilities. You may see a number of Post Production Vendors offering to Encrypt your data at an additional charge. Do not be duped by this unless your receiver insists upon this. If you are thinking about your data as it travels with you/your production as you go, then Encryption is a valuable consideration. However when you send your final product on the Hard Drive, in the CRU Carrier, if you encrypt it, a great many submission facilities will not accept or be able to view your work.

However, if you still wish to protect your work from prying eyes, you can arrange with the receiver a KDM, OR Key Delivery Message. KDMs give you the ability to be selective about who is able to view your finished product. However you are very much at the mercy of the submission facility about whether they are happy to accommodate this and something you should take the time to research in advance.


Do I need to convert my film to 24 fps before creating a DCP?

The short answer is most likely. While newer Digital Cinema servers are capable of playing back films at many different frame rates, the vast majority of servers can only play content reliably at 24 fps. We advise clients and customers alike regularly on the best solutions for converting the frame rate of their films and will be happy to assist you too. But if in doubt, keep your video files in 24fps.   


What is a DCDM?

A DCDM, or Digital Cinema Distribution Master, should be considered your final step when carrying your work over to your DCP if the intention is to be screened in electronic Theatres. When guideline and rules as refer to your DCDM, they are referring to your final, synchronized and correctly tracked work that you compose.


My work is on a DVD OR Blu-Ray? Can I turn this into a DCP?

You certainly can, just use a PC or Mac to carry the data from Disk to DCP Hard Disk! However where possible, we would highly recommend using the original source material as the majority of media is compressed or it’s resolution decreased to fit it onto the optical media.


We at SPAN.COM have been in the Business of DCP for a number of years now and have helped thousands of people ranging from small 1 person Indie Projects all the way up to Festival Submission Authorities to accommodate DCP. If you have any questions, Large or small about Digital Cinema, don’t hesitate to contact us and we can help you get your work in front of those that matter.


Still need help?
Come visit us at SPANTV for more information of DCP and make sure you get it right, first time!


Need a little More?

Take a look at our dedicated DCP and CRU feature page below (just click the banner). It features bundles and options as well as information and further guidance to all things DCP.

Why not have a look

 Want to have a go at this yourself?

     Perhaps you have a bespoke DCP need, maybe you wish to get your hands dirty and do the job yourself. Whatever your reason, you can always use a pre-existing hard drive and or a larger capacity than 500GB and use the guide below to format it in EXT 3, via both Windows and Mac.     



The physical medium specification for DCPs

The physical medium specification for DCPs is a USB 2 external hard drive formatted as MBR Ext 2/3. Doremi and Sony support MBR NTFS (and others), but the correct format is the linux format Ext 2 or Ext 3 with a inode size of 128 that is read and executable only.
Source: ISDCF Disc File Format

Note: If you deliver on a NTFS hard drive and you are formatting it on a Mac with Paragon NTFS make sure to format it with a MBR partition table.

Choose the hard drive in Disk Utility
Choose Partition
Choose 1 Partition
Choose Options – Master Boot Record

Note: Cinema DCP players often use the Linux OS and it does not natively support exFAT formatted hard drives.

Note: Even though there is a standard that says that there should only be one Assetmap on each hard drive, it is common practice to include different DCPs in different folder on the hard drive. But do not use folders inside folders like this: /DCP/MYFILM. Use only 1 partition on the hard drive.

Note: The name of the folder will not be shown when ingesting the DCP on a Doremi.

To format Ext 2/3 harddrives I have used:
-a PC running Ubuntu Linux
-Ubuntu Linux run from a USB pendrive made with USB linux creator.

You can copy the DCP to a inode 128 read and executable only EXT2/EXT3 harddrive in many ways.

This is one way:

In terminal. Install gparted.
sudo apt-get install gparted

Run gparted
sudo gparted

In Gparted

Click on “Make a dos partition table”

Use add partition and format the drive as ext 2 or ext3.

Note the name of the partition (like sda1) and format it again in terminal with -I 128 inode.
sudo mkfs.ext2 -I 128 /dev/sda1

-j is for journal.
sudo mkfs.ext2 -j -I 128 /dev/sda1

In Gparted you can add a label like DCP1

Run Terminal
Run sudo Nautilus to get a root GUI file manager.
Then copy the dcp directory to the harddrive in the root GUI file manager.
Then make the dcp directory read only and executable.
In Terminal
chmod -R 755 /media/kese/dcp/dcp

To make the ext 2/3 partition without formatting you can use gparted/parted.

In gparted:
Make a dos partition table

Use Add a partition table and write down the start and end values, then cancel and exit gparted.

In terminal. Install parted.
sudo apt-get install parted

Start parted on the disk you used in gparted
sudo parted /dev/sda

run mkpart
choose primary, ext2, and the start and end values from gparted like 1MiB and 3905MiB.

quit parted

then format the partition with -I 128 inode

sudo mkfs.ext2 -j -I 128 /dev/sda1

sudo mkfs.ext2 -I 128 /dev/sda1


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