The Importance of Screening your film. DCP vs. Blu-ray… See the difference!

There are many filmmakers waiting patiently to hear if their film has made it into the film festivals they have submitted to. As they wait on the tips of their toes, they finally  hear the good news or the  bad news.  For the ones who have been selected the next step would be to submit a specific deliverable for exhibition.  As you read on through the guidelines the film festival has sent you, your eyes reach the section that talks about exhibition delivery requirements. Your eyes widen as you cringe at the very moment you read at least five exhibition formats the festival accepts.

So what do you do next…Panic?!

Let’s hold off on panicking for a second because we can help you get through this stage. The best exhibition format you can choose to screen your film from is by far a Digital Cinema Package. If your scratching your head right now not knowing what this is, well here is a little information on what a Digital Cinema Package (DCP) is:

A Digital Print exists as data stored on a hard drive in the way a film print comes as rolls of film contained in cans. A Digital Print, known as a Digital Cinema Package (DCP), is a movie stored as a group of digital files that are transported to theaters on a hard drive. The files are copied to the theater’s Digital Cinema Server-a computer that stores, reads, and plays back DCP’s. From the server the movie is played back and projected onto the screen. A DCP is what is used as the content in all digital cinemas for the highest quality playback.

We have also compiled a list of the top five reasons to project your film from a DCP based on our experience.

The top 5 reasons are:

  1. Superior image and sound quality over everything else for commercial exhibition ( Film, tape, Blu-ray)
  2.  Huge cost savings for DCP mastering and distribution compared to Film Prints and even tape.
  3.  Broad Acceptance: Nearly all cinema screens will be Digital by 2015.
  4.  High Reliability and less fragile media.
  5. Perfect digital copies exhibit the same quality on the 100th screening as the 1st.

Let’s focus on the number one reason, superior image quality. Why second guess yourself when many eyes will be glued onto the theater screen watching your film shot by shot as you sit in your seat focusing on the viewers response.  Provide your audience with the best viewing experience and let them see the visual art you have created the way it was intended to be seen! And trust me we have been to various Film Festivals and have seen the difference in quality!r


If we still don’t have you convinced yet, here is another fact:


Theaters  are not use to receiving Blu-rays and DVDs and often their systems are not setup to play them back correctly for that environment. The reason; Blu-rays are for the home  and are in a different color space (Rec709) then professional projectors are set up to deal with (DCI XYZ) . There are no standard color profiles to project this in a theater an therefore they are often a bad representation of what the filmmaker intended. Common problems are lifted blacks, washed out colors, blown out high lights, interlaced lines, soft pictures and poor resolution.  When screening from a DCP, theaters are following the DCI standards and  it will look like it did when the film was mastered, perfect.


DCI also specifies the type of compression and data rate necessary to faithfully represent images on movie screens. DCP’s are compressed at a maximum of 250 Megabits per second. This means that when your movie is displayed from a DCP it should be visually indistinguishable from your final color graded images. DCP’s are compressed at a maximum of 250 Mbits/sec with Jpeg 2000 encoding (wavelet/loss-less) and contain 12 bits of color information (4,096 steps/68,719,476,736 colors).
Blu-rays are compressed at a maximum of 35 Mbits/sec with h264 or mpeg2 encoding (both lossy) and contain 8 bits of color information (256 sterojeps/16,777,216 colors).

Just let that sink in for a while,  if you are exhibiting your film from a Blu-ray then your art is being viewed compressed and is losing it’s image/color fidelity  it should be projected as. Choose to have your  film viewed the way it was suppose to be intended and deliver a DCP!


If you need more convincing please feel free to download our  Ebook: Digital Cinema Mastering 101: DCPs done right here. 

And if you would like order a Digital Cinema Package for your film, submit a quote request at the link above and we will get a quote sent right over to you.

Roush Media provides high quality DCP’s . We have the control to check our DCP’s in our DI theater, screen them from our Dolby Cinema Server, and have our Colorist on staff check the color of your film. We like to provide our clients with the piece of mind of getting it done right the first time from all stages from editorial, color and deliverables .

– Roush Media Blogger

To get a quote on mastering a DCP :

DCP Quote