Source Requirements for Theatrical Playback

Best practices

Making a DCP with AutoDCP is easy.   Take your source, drop it in your dropbox account and voila your source is converted into a DCP for playback at any DCI equipped theater.   AutoDCP supports many source formats, and does much of the work for you, however, you still need to follow some relatively simple rules in order to make your DCP’s the best possible.  What’s the easiest and  best format to use for conversion into a DCP?

Short answer

  • Apple prores 422 or 4444.
  • Audio and video contained within the prores file as exactly 1 video track and 1 audio track (Which can be mono, stereo, or 5.1.  If 5.1 channel ordering is left, right, center, sub, left surround, right surround.  If content is ‘silent’, the prores file must include a mono-silent audio channel)
  • Video must be either 23.98, or 24fps
  • Video size must be one of the following:
    1. 2048×858 (known as scope, 2.38 aspect)
    2. 1998×1080 (known as flat, 1.85 aspect)
    3. 1920×1080 (known as HD or 1.77 aspect, this format is automatically converted for you into a pillared 1.85 presentation)
  • The prores file is ready for immediate presentation, ie video master (headers, slates, two-pops, pre and post taglines, extra audio channels all removed.)   We do recommend a frame of black at the beginning and end of the presentation.
  • Name your source file to agree with the DCP naming convention (plus a .mov file extension), eg LegendsOfTomorrow-Trailer_NoKey_PLT_F-185_EN-XX_US-NR_51_HD_WBTV_20150508_AUTODCP_OV.mov (DCP naming convention reference chart. )

Common mistakes

  • 2.39 content should NOT be letterboxed.   If your content is this aspect you must provide us a non-letterboxed version at a resolution of 2048×858.
  • multichannel audio (5.1) must be 1 track of audio (with 6 channels), not 6 tracks of individual mono channels;  also do not provide a stereo pair on channels 7/8 or any additional wild tracks.

Longer answer


Acceptable delivery source files

file formats (codecs):

  • Apple prores (422 or 4444), this is our preferred format for most consistent quality
  • MXF (Avid DNxHD)
  • MP4
  • others (may be supported, contact us for details. or just try it for free)


Source is 1.77 (HD) aspect :

AutoDCP will center matte this into 1.85 canvas, using black pillars to fill, e.g. left and right black pillars added.

Source is 2.35 aspect:

AutoDCP will center matte this into a 2.39 canvas, letterboxing with black.

Source is 1.85 (Flat) aspect:

AutoDCP will turn this into a 1.85 DCP ready for theatrical playback without any modifications.

Source is 2.39 (Scope) aspect:

AutoDCP will turn this into a 2.39 DCP ready for theatrical playback without any modifications.

Older aspect and experimental aspects (Square, 4/3, 5/4, etc):

AutoDCP choose whether to use 2.39 or 1.85 aspect based on your source aspect.  If your source is <= 1.9 your source will be placed into a 1.85 aspect DCP, otherwise your source will be matted into a 2.39 aspect DCP.   Sources are zoomed first to fill the available dimension and filled with black, e.g. either in letterbox or pillaring fashion.  AutoDCP does not crop, nor does it change your original aspect (e.g. people still look as fat or as skinny as you intended.)

Aspects and Resolutions

Don’t know what aspect you are working in?   Here’s a great chart

Audio Details:

DCP’s require audio, whether actual active channels or at least one mono silent channel.

AutoDCP requires the audio to be delivered on a single track with up to 16 channels of audio.   AutoDCP will reject srcs which have more than one audio track.

Mono:  1 track 1 channel.

Stereo:  1 track 2 channels, channel order: L, R

5.1:  1 track, 6 channels, channel order:  L, R, C, LFE, Ls, Rs

7.1:  1 track 8 channels, channel order (compliant to Resolve): L, R, C LFE, Lss,Rss,Lbs, Rbs.  AutoDCP will create a 16 channel DCP from these sources in compliant to “7.1 DS” https://isdcf.com/papers/ISDCF-Doc4-Audio-channel-recommendations.pdf   Make sure to inform your projectionist so they configure your room to match.

Other:   You can also supply all 16 channels in the order you like and AutoDCP will simply output as a native 16 track DCP.  For instance, should you wish to provide visual, or audio impairment channels as well as chair motion channels.