How to copy your DCP onto a memory stick for film festivals

The DCP (Digital Cinema Package) has now become the standard delivery format for the biggest film festivals around the world.

Many festivals will also ask for a backup MP4 or BluRay disk too (many DCP’s fail because they were incorrectly mastered or delivered). But the DCP is the preferred format.

The DCP drive (both format and content) is quite unforgiving of even small errors. The impact is many simply fail when they get to festivals as corners were cut.

So when DCP Transfer by Cinematiq – a program that clones DCP drives – came across my in-box, I was eager to check it out in relation to the short film ‘Seeing Him’ I just directed. I know Vanessa has now submitted to over 40 festivals and those that accept it will most likely ask for a DCP.

DCP Transfer allows you to clone / copy your original DCP onto new drives – memory stick drives. You can also check the content and format of the master DCP as well as verify the copy. This is enormously helpful.

It’s really not a complex tool, kind of…

  • Check the source drive
  • Check the destination drive
  • Check the master DCP is all good
  • Copy the DCP
  • Check the copy is perfect

… and you are good to go.

‘Seeing Him’ is a 9 minute film including credits and coming in at 9.7 GB (onto 16gb sticks), taking around an hour to copy. The master DCP was made by Soho Digital for us (you could master your own but I choose to use the experts for this final stage – and I make the DCP ‘unlocked’). For feature films we are going to be looking at 64gb memory sticks, maybe even 128gb ones.

You should also note that a DCP should be transferred to a server when presented at a festival – it won’t play off the memory stick (or shouldn’t, I don’t know if it can be done).

DCP Transfer runs on a Mac only and costs $50 which is frankly money well spent.

Yes there are ways to copy DCPs without this tool, but for me, the ease with which it works and the certainty that it will work ‘festival side’ are well worth the investment.

As an indie filmmaker, I wouldn’t even consider entering the festival circuit without Cinematiq in my filmmaker toolkit. 

Onwards and upwards!

Chris Jones
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