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What is DCP and What It Costs

What is DCP

This is an excerpt from my book The Indian Indie Film (or Make Your Film for rest of the world). It was written from the experience of making my debut feature film on an iPhone for ₹5 lakhs ($7,000). Now available as an eBook on Amazon.


Filmmakers moving to features need to be aware of Digital Cinema Package or DCP. It is a digital standard followed across the globe to enable seamless projection in any theatre, of any movie produced anywhere in the world. An easy way to think of it is like the frames you saw in the olden day films.

Frames of a Film And DCP | Image by Niek Verlaan from Pixabay
Frames of a Film And DCP | Image by Niek Verlaan from Pixabay

The celluloid films used to have a lot of frames printed on it and a sound track to the side. The projector played each frame and the corresponding sound using the perforations as a guide.

Unlike the single file torrent downloads we are so used to, the whole movie is exported as individual images and separate sound tracks of very high quality. It is the perforations that guided the old projectors when to play what. In digital, the DCP holds all the images and sounds and guides the projector when to play what.

How To Create DCP?

It is something you can do on your own, but I would advice against it. Outsource it to professionals. I think it costs something between ₹10,000 to ₹30,000 (need to check in your area).

You might be able to beg your way into playing a BluRay, but all major festivals need you send them DCPs. If you plan to release in movie theatres, DCP is a must. Anyway you do not want playback issue when 100 people are in their seats waiting to see your movie. I want our movie to play like butter. And if there is some hiccup, I want to call the expert who made the DCP and get the problem solved quickly.

A DCP file easily goes over 2, 4 TB. I have only seen DCPs in professional quality external hard drives, the ones with external power. Never in a portable pocket disk, except for backups. All good quality ones will cost at least ₹20,000. And to be on the safer side, you need 2 of the same hard drives to make two copies. In case you made only one DCP, and you lost it somehow, then you will have to spend money to recreate the DCP and on hard drives. It’s up to you.

If Only Releasing Online

Then you do not have to worry about DCP. ProRes files are fairly standard across all online streaming platforms. It is easy to create if you have a Mac, or the latest version of Adobe Premiere Pro.

Just be aware that there is such a thing as DCP and what it is going to cost you. Tomorrow we take a look at a low budget filmmaker’s best friend in postproduction.


Hey Aspiring Filmmaker,

I debuted my film career making a feature film for ₹5 lakhs ($7,000) on an iPhone. I’d like to help you do the same. So I wrote everything I learned into a book. It is now available on Amazon, called The Indian Indie Film (or Make Your Film for rest of the world). Enjoy!

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