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Tutorial: Exporting for Digital Cinema with Adobe Premiere Pro and Adobe Media Encoder CC 2014

A key concern for any producer is to ensure that the work you produce will play back on as many platforms (online, mobile, broadcast) as possible. Until recently, delivering content in digital cinema environments was the exclusive province of high-end facilities with specialized equipment. But with the release of Adobe Media Encoder CC 2014 and its Wraptor DCP plug-in, DCP has become just another export option, putting digital cinema delivery well within the reach of any Adobe CC user. Here's how you can add it to your offerings when your clients or projects demand it.

Adobe released an update to all of its Creative Cloud applications last week, and one of the new features available in Premiere Pro and Adobe Media Encoder is the ability to export a Digital Cinema Package. If you're primarily a streaming media/online video producer, you may be familiar with this format as a producer, but you're definitely familiar with it as a consumer. If you've ever gone to a theater in the last few years and noted that it was a digital cinema, the film you watched was delivered as a DCP. 

What's in a DCP?

A DCP is not necessarily one file; it's actually a group of files, typically created by post-production house that specializes in creating DCP files of short films, independent films, Hollywood blockbusters, and so forth. If you're going to deliver your work in a digital cinema--instead of, or in addition to other delivery media like on-demand online video, DVD, or Blu-ray Disc--you have to produce a DCP. 

Creating a DCP has been sort of a black art over the last few years. It's not a simple process, or one understood by, or even available to most producers unless they had very expensive, specialized software, or paid a lot of money to someone else who had the capabilities to create them. Some people have taken to programming DCP files themselves, and using a terminal to create all the necessary XML and MXF files.

Adobe has teamed up with a company called Quvis that makes an application called Wraptor (now in version 3.0) that has been in the market for a number of years and has been used by a lot of big Hollywood firms to create their DCP files for big-budget films. In researching DCP, I read that some Hollywood film projects will budget up to $20,000 to create the DCP. That may not be a big portion of some budgets, but it gives you an idea of how important this final output of a production is when the film in question is going to be delivered on a big screen in a digital cinema. 

Why DCP?

You may be wondering why, as a streaming media/online video producer, you'd want to produce a DCP in the first place. One reason is that you want your content to appear on as many screens as possible. As online video producers we've experienced this with televisions and mobile devices. Of course, theaters have been around longer than any of those venues, but traditionally if you've been producing video for online delivery you haven't been producing for theaters. But with Adobe Media Encoder's new DCP features, you have this capability built into an application that you're already using, and you can start using it with some small modifications or additions to your export workflow.

Let's say you have a corporate event where there are some large audiences that are going to need to go to a central place, such as a local theater, to see something that was pre-recorded at the company's headquarters. Or maybe you have something like the project I'll be using in this tutorial (Figure 1, below), this live concert footage that turned out to be a big hit, and the client wants to show it in some theaters in a bigger metro area or in some different cities.

Figure 1. Our DCP-bound concert footage.

So you can now create content that will be compatible with all the different digital cinema systems and displayed the way you intend it to be seen.


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