I have just retuned from a visit to the office of the lovely people at SDC who are making the DCP for 50 Kisses.
I know a great deal more about the process of making one now and plan an extensive blog on the matter post 50 Kisses premiere (as it is so essential for filmmakers to understand).
The bottom line is this.
Yes, you can make a DCP at home or on DIY tools, BUT… the risk of problems is present. Essentially, even if you do make your files, delivering to a theatre and ensuring they work falls into these camps…
- Naming convention – unless you know exactly how to name files, projectionists could easily reject it.
- Media – professionals use a specific, almost military grade industry standard hard drive that most of us would struggle to use. You don’t NEED this kind of drive to deliver the DCP but not all cinema servers are the same, and many may not recognise EXFAT or NTFS file systems, or may even fail to even load the USB drive you send it on. It’s not a failing of the drives, it’s the servers inability to recognise what we give them. Most will be fine, but some won’t.
- Fail – for whatever reason your drive or files fail and you have made them yourself, who will fix it? And how quickly? And do you have the experience to make sure it all works?
When it comes down to it, the cost of making a professional DCP outweighs the risks of the DIY approach in my view.
Consider how long it has taken to get to this point, how much has been invested and what you stand to lose if your DCP will not play.
Consider also, up until this point, you have always been present to solve problems, be it at a test screening, in the cutting room or the final mix. When you send your DCP out, it needs to work 100% as you won’t be there to fix it if it goes wrong. Like DVD, it’s needs to be bullet proof.
I have heard of people screening off BluRay too, and while I see the logic and it’s an extremely viable option, home burned disks are notoriously flaky, sometimes not playing, sometimes skipping. Again, is it 100% bulletproof? It needs to work 100% of the time and not 99%.
If you think you can’t afford a DCP, have a chat with the people at SDC or one of the other companies who make DCPs and ask for advice or a deal. Like making a film poster, it may be cheaper than you think to hire a pro, and the results will be backed up by professional experience.
And keep an eye out as I will do a full and nose bleeding report on how to make a DCP, whether you do it at home or with the pros.