A DCP Problem and A Refresh On Troubleshooting

August 29, 2019

Team Mixing Light tackles two problems creating a DCP. We also discuss proper troubleshooting techniques for any post production problem.


From The MailBag Episode 74

Problems Copying A DCP With A Refresher On Good Troubleshooting Techniques

If you work in postproduction long enough, you’re likely to encounter frustrating problems – sometimes daily or even hourly!

Sometimes it’s a render, sometimes your computer just refuses to cooperate, or sometimes it’s a feature that’s supposed to work one way and in reality works another.

Recently, I encountered two related and frustrating issues while trying to output a DCP for a client.  While I eventually overcame both problems with the help of Mixing Light contributor and good pal Joey D’Anna, I was reminded of how important methodical troubleshooting is in our industry.

In this installment of From The Mailbag, Joey joins us once again while Dan is still sequestered on a big HDR project.

The DCP Problem

Like many of you, I work on a lot of feature-length documentaries. The thing about docs is they often lead multiple lives – they’re sold to broadcasters, appear on the web, and in festivals.

What I’m getting at is these projects can often be 29.97, 25, or even 59.94fps and not the standard ‘film’ frame rate of 24 fps or its cousin 23.976.

As we’ve discussed in a previous Insight, Interop DCPs are always 24 fps, and Interop is the most universal DCP format. SMPTE DCPs, along with the ability to have additional features like Dolby Atmos, also support other frame rates like 25, 30, 48 etc.

The project I was working on was 29.97. Because of this, I knew that I’d have to make an SMPTE formated DCP, but here’s the thing – there are no fractional frame rates for an SMPTE DCP.  For things to work, it has to be true 30 not 29.97 for example.

DaVinci Resolve Studio both with the built-in Kakadu encoder and with Easy DCP (paid plugin) properly handle the necessary ‘pull-up’ from 23.98 > 24 for Interop and SMPTE DCPs, but as I found out, the Kakadu encoder does not handle this pull-up properly for 29.97 > 30 (this seems to still be true in the shipping version of 16, I’ve not yet tried 16.1 Beta).

In the episode, we talk about how I overcame this, but I ran into another problem after successfully authoring the DCP!

Because I’m in the middle of a facility move, the Linux system that I usually use to format DCPs was not available, I follow the incredible write up that Joey contributed to this Insight.

In place of using a Linux computer, I decided to use DCP transfer that I recently wrote about – which as you’ll hear, came with its own problems!

Troubleshooting 101

In the process of trying to solve the problems I was having with the DCP,  I was reminded by Joey about the importance of methodical troubleshooting. Joey’s engineering background lends itself to this approach vs. my approach of ‘blow it up’! And to be honest – it was refreshing and insightful to see how Joey’s mind worked to fix the problem(s).

While the blow it up approach might fix some problems, you’ll often be left without answers as to what the problem actually was.

In the second half of the episode, we discuss the importance of troubleshooting through problem identification and elimination.  Even if you consider yourself an excellent problem solver, this discussion is a great reminder on how to properly troubleshoot any issue.

Have A Question For Team Mixing Light?

Remember, if you have questions that you’d like to get an opinion on please use the contact form

Your questions can be aesthetic, technical or even client related. We’d love to hear from you, and your question might make future episodes of From The MailBag.

Enjoy the MailBag!


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