Digital Cinema Initiatives

Digital Cinema Initiatives, LLC (DCI) is a joint venture of major motion picture studios, formed to establish a standard architecture for digital cinema systems.

The organization was formed in March 2002 by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer,[a] Paramount Pictures, Sony Pictures Entertainment, 20th Century Fox, Universal Studios, The Walt Disney Company and Warner Bros.

The primary purpose of DCI is to establish and document specifications for an open architecture for digital cinema that ensures a uniform and high level of technical performance, reliability and quality.[1] By establishing a common set of content requirements, distributors, studios, exhibitors, d-cinema manufacturers and vendors can be assured of interoperability and compatibility. Because of the relationship of DCI to many of Hollywood's key studios, conformance to DCI's specifications is considered a requirement by software developers or equipment manufacturers targeting the digital cinema market.


On July 20, 2005, DCI released Version 1.0 of its "Digital Cinema System Specification", commonly referred to as the "DCI Specification". The document describes overall system requirements and specifications for digital cinema. Between March 28, 2006, and March 21, 2007, DCI issued 148 errata to Version 1.0.

DCI released Version 1.1 of the DCI Specification on April 12, 2007, incorporating the previous 148 errata into the DCI Specification. On April 15, 2007, at the annual NAB Digital Cinema Summit, DCI announced the new version, as well as some future plans. They released a "Stereoscopic Digital Cinema Addendum"[2] to begin to establish 3-D technical specifications in response to the popularity of 3-D stereoscopic films. It was also announced "which studios would take over the leadership roles in DCI after the current leadership term expires at the end of September."[3]

Subsequently, between August 27, 2007, and February 1, 2008, DCI issued 100 errata to Version 1.1. So, DCI released Version 1.2 of the DCI Specification on March 7, 2008, again incorporating the previous 100 errata into the specification document. An additional 96 errata were issued by August 30, 2012, so a revised Version 1.2 incorporating those additional errata was approved on October 10, 2012. DCI approved DCI Specification Version 1.3 on June 27, 2018, integrating the 45 errata issued to the previous version into a new document. [4] The previous versions are also archived on the DCI web site.

Based on many SMPTE and ISO standards, such as JPEG 2000-compressed image and "broadcast wave" PCM/WAV sound, it explains the route to create an entire Digital Cinema Package (DCP) from a raw collection of files known as the Digital Cinema Distribution Master (DCDM), as well as the specifics of its content protection, encryption, and forensic marking.

The specification also establishes standards for the decoder requirements and the presentation environment itself, such as ambient light levels, pixel aspect and shape, image luminance, white point chromaticity, and those tolerances to be kept.

Even though it specifies what kind of information is required, the DCI Specification does not include specific information about how data within a distribution package is to be formatted. Formatting of this information is defined by the Society of Motion Picture and Television Engineers (SMPTE) digital cinema standards and related documents.[b]

Image and audio capability overview

2D image

  • 2048×1080 (2K) at 24 frame/s or 48 frame/s, or 4096×2160 (4K) at 24 frame/s
    • In 2K, for Scope (2.39:1) presentation 2048×858 pixels of the imager is used
    • In 2K, for Flat (1.85:1) presentation 1998×1080 pixels of the imager is used
    • In 4K, for Scope (2.39:1) presentation 4096×1716 pixels of the imager is used
    • In 4K, for Flat (1.85:1) presentation 3996×2160 pixels of the imager is used
  • 12 bits per color component (36 bits per pixel) via dual HD-SDI (encrypted)
    • 10 bits only permitted for 2K at 48 frame/s
  • CIE XYZ color space
  • TIFF 6.0 container format (one file per frame)
  • JPEG 2000 compression
    • From 0 to 5 or from 1 to 6 wavelet decomposition levels for 2K or 4K resolutions, respectively
    • Compression rate of 4.71 bits/pixel (2K @ 24 frame/s), 2.35 bits/pixel (2K @ 48 frame/s), 1.17 bits/pixel (4K @ 24 frame/s)
  • 250 Mbit/s maximum image bit rate

Stereoscopic 3D image

  • 2048×1080 (2K) at 48 frame/s - 24 frame/s per eye (4096×2160 4K not supported)
    • In 2K, for Scope (2.39:1) presentation 2048×858 pixels of the imager is used
    • In 2K, for Flat (1.85:1) presentation 1998×1080 pixels of the imager is used
    • Optionally, in the HD-SDI link only: 10 bit color, YCbCr 4:2:2, each eye in separate stream


  • 24 bits per sample, 48 kHz or 96 kHz
  • Up to 16 channels
  • WAV container, uncompressed PCM

DCI has additionally published a document outlining recommended practice for High Frame Rate digital cinema.[5] This document discloses the following proposed frame rates: 60, 96, and 120 frames per second for 2D at 2K resolution; 48 and 60 for stereoscopic 3D at 2K resolution; 48 and 60 for 2D at 4K resolution. The maximum compressed bit rate for support of all proposed frame rates should be 500 Mbit/s.

Related information

The idea for DCI was originally mooted in late 1999 by Tom McGrath, then COO of Paramount Pictures, who applied to the U.S. Department of Justice for anti-trust waivers to allow the joint cooperation of all seven major motion picture studios.

Universal Pictures made one of the first feature-length DCPs created to DCI specifications, using their film Serenity.[6] Although it was not distributed theatrically, it had one public screening on November 7, 2005, at the USC Entertainment Technology Center's Digital Cinema Laboratory in the Pacific Theatre, Hollywood. Inside Man was Universal's first DCP commercial release, and, in addition to 35mm film distribution, was delivered via hard drive to 20 theatres in the United States along with two trailers.

The Academy Film Archive houses the Digital Cinema Initiatives, LLC Collection, which includes film and digital elements from DCI’s Standard Evaluation Material (StEM), a 12-minute production shot on 35mm and 65mm film, created for vendors and standards organizations to test and evaluate image compression and digital projection technologies.[7]


  1. ^ Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer withdrew as a member of DCI in May 2005, prior to the release of the DCI Specification.
  2. ^ As of 1 January 2018, the following fifty-six SMPTE engineering guidelines, recommended practices, registered disclosure documents and standards had been adopted and published: • EG 432-1 Digital Source Processing - Color Processing for D-Cinema • EG 432-2 Digital Source Processing - D-Cinema Low Frequency Effects (LFE) Channel Audio Characteristics • RDD 20 Cinelink 2 Specification • RP 200 Relative and Absolute Sound Pressure Levels for Motion-Picture Multichannel Sound Systems - Applicable for Analog Photographic Film Audio, Digital Photographic Film Audio and D-Cinema • RP 428-4 D-Cinema Distribution Master - Audio File Format and Delivery Constraints • RP 428-5 D-Cinema Distribution Master - Mapping of Images into Constrained Tag Image File • RP 428-6 D-Cinema Distribution Master - Digital Leader • RP 431-2 D-Cinema Quality - Reference Projector and Environment • ST 336 Data Encoding Protocol Using Key-Length-Value • ST 337-1 Material Exchange Format (MXF) - File Format Specification • ST 377-4 MXF Multichannel Audio Labeling Framework • ST 379-1 Material Exchange Format (MXF) - MXF Generic Container • ST 379-2 For Television - Material Exchange Format (MXF) - MXF Constrained Generic Container • ST 382 Material Exchange Format - Mapping AES3 and Broadcast Wave Audio into the MXF Generic Container • ST 390 Material Exchange Format (MXF) - Specialized Operational Pattern OP-Atom (Simplified Representation of a Single Item) • ST 400 SMPTE Labels Structure • ST 410 Material Exchange Format - Generic Stream Partition • ST 422 Material Exchange Format - Mapping JPEG 2000 Codestreams into the MXF Generic Container • ST 427 Link Encryption for 1.5 Gb/s Serial Digital Interface • ST 428-1 D-Cinema Distribution Master (DCDM) - Image Characteristics • ST 428-2 D-Cinema Distribution Master - Audio Characteristics • ST 428-7 Digital Cinema Distribution Master - Subtitle • ST 428-9 D-Cinema Distribution Master - Image Pixel Structure Level 3 - Serial Digital Interface Signal Formatting • ST 428-10 D-Cinema Distribution Master - Closed Caption and Closed Subtitle • ST 428-11 Additional Frame Rates for D-Cinema • ST 428-12 D-Cinema Distribution Master Common Audio Channels and Soundfield Groups • ST 428-19 D-Cinema Distribution Master - Additional Frame Rates Level AFR2 and Level AFR4 - Serial Digital Interface Signal Formatting • ST 428-21 Archive Frame Rates for D-Cinema • ST 429-2 D-Cinema Packaging - DCP Operational Constraints • ST 429-3 D-Cinema Packaging - Sound and Picture Track File • ST 429-4 D-Cinema Packaging - MXF JPEG 2000 Application • ST 429-5 D-Cinema Packaging - Timed Text Track File • ST 429-6 D-Cinema Packaging - MXF Track File Essence Encryption • ST 429-7 D-Cinema Packaging - Composition Playlist • ST 429-8 D-Cinema Packaging - Packing List • ST 429-9 D-Cinema Packaging - Asset Mapping and File Segmentation • ST 429-10 D-Cinema Packaging - Stereoscopic Picture Track File • ST 429-12 D-Cinema Packaging - Caption and Closed Subtitle • ST 429-13 D-Cinema Packaging - DCP Operational Constraints for Additional Frame Rates • ST 429-14 D-Cinema Packaging - Aux Data Track File • ST 429-16 Additional Composition Metadata and Guidelines • ST 430-1 D-Cinema Operations - Key Delivery Message • ST 430-2 D-Cinema Operations - Digital Certificate • ST 430-3 D-Cinema Operations - Generic Extra-Theater Message Format • ST 430-4 D-Cinema Operations - Log Record Format Specification • ST 430-5 D-Cinema Packaging - Security Log Event Class and Constraints • ST 430-6 D-Cinema Operations - Auditorium Security Messages for Intra-Theater Communications • ST 430-9 D-Cinema Operations - Key Delivery Bundle • ST 430-10 D-Cinema Operations - Auxiliary Content Synchronization Protocol • ST 430-11 D-Cinema Operations - Auxiliary Resource Presentation List • ST 430-12 D-Cinema Operations - FSK Synchronization Signal • ST 430-14 D-Cinema Operations - Digital Sync Signal and Aux Data Transfer Protocol • ST 430-15 D-Cinema Operations - Facility List Message Exchange Protocol • ST 430-16 D-Cinema Operations - Extended Facility List Message • ST 431-1 D-Cinema Quality - Screen Luminance Level, Chromaticity and Uniformity • ST 433 D-Cinema - XML Data Types


  1. ^ DCI (home page)
  2. ^ Stereoscopic DC (PDF) (addendum), DCI.
  3. ^ Cohen, David S (2007-04-15). "DCI announces digital, 3-D specs". Variety. Retrieved 2017-06-10.
  4. ^ DCSS Version 1.3 (PDF), DCI, 2018-06-27.
  5. ^ High Frame Rates Digital Cinema Recommended Practice, DCI.
  6. ^ DCinemaToday
  7. ^ "Digital Cinema Initiatives, LLC Collection". Academy Film Archive.


External links

2K resolution

2K resolution is a generic term for display devices or content having horizontal resolution of approximately 2,000 pixels. Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI) defines 2K resolution standard as 2048×1080.In the movie projection industry, DCI is the dominant standard for 2K output.

4K resolution

4K resolution, also called 4K, refers to a horizontal display resolution of approximately 4,000 pixels. Digital television and digital cinematography commonly use several different 4K resolutions. In television and consumer media, 3840 × 2160 (4K UHD) is the dominant 4K standard, whereas the movie projection industry uses 4096 × 2160 (DCI 4K).

The 4K television market share increased as prices fell dramatically during 2014 and 2015. By 2020, more than half of U.S. households are expected to have 4K-capable TVs, a much faster adoption rate than that of Full HD (1080p).

ASC Technology Committee

The American Society of Cinematographers Technology Committee (ASC Technology Committee) is a group of cinematographers and a broad collection of A-list motion picture industry participants working on how to make high quality motion pictures using the new technologies and techniques presented by the massive changes taking place in pre-production, cameras, production, post-production, theatrical delivery and exhibition, and non-theatrical (home) delivery and exhibition. The ASC Technology Committee has been one of the industry leaders in these areas. Significant work produced includes the ASC-DCI Standard Evaluation Material (StEM), the ASC-PGA Camera Assessment Series (CAS), and the ASC Color Decision List (ASC CDL).

The ASC Technology Committee is the first committee in the ASC's nearly 100-year history that has some officers and participants who are not ASC Member cinematographers.

Chair: Curtis Clark, ASC

Vice-chair: Richard Edlund, ASC

Vice-chair: Steven Poster, ASC

Secretary: David Reisner

Bob Lambert (executive)

Bob Lambert (c. 1957 – September 7, 2012) was an American media executive with The Walt Disney Company for more than twenty-five years. Lambert is widely credited with championing the transition to computer animation (CGI) within Disney and the larger entertainment industry.Lambert was born and raised in Roanoke, Virginia. He received his bachelor's degree from Virginia Tech.Lambert, who was with Walt Disney Feature Animation at the time, developed the plan to transition Disney animated film production from hand-drawn, cel animation with CGI. Along with leaders at Pixar, Lambert spearheaded the development of Disney's Computer Animation Production System (CAPS), which earned an Academy Award for Technical Achievement in 1992.In addition to his work with Disney, Lambert founded and chaired Digital Cinema Initiatives (DCI), a consortium encompassing six major film studios. Under Lambert, DCI aided movie theaters' transition to digital exhibition, including digital cinema. DCI established industry quality guidelines for theaters for digital content and film projection.Lambert held more than thirty patents in media technologies. He was honored as a digital industry pioneer by ShoWest, which is now known as CinemaCon. In 2013, USC Entertainment Technology Center established the annual Bob Lambert Technology Leadership Award, and Chuck Dages (former executive vice president of emerging technologies at Warner Bros.) was the first recipient.Bob Lambert died at his home in Glendale, California, on September 7, 2012, at the age of 55. He was survived by his wife, Cheryl Murphy; his brother Paul Lambert; and nephew Nathaniel Lambert.

Coded anti-piracy

Coded anti-piracy (CAP) is an anti-copyright infringement technology which marks each film print of a motion picture with a distinguishing pattern of dots, used as a forensic identifier to identify the source of illegal copies.

They are not to be confused with cue marks, which are black or white circles usually in the upper right-hand corner of the frame. A cue mark is used to signal the projectionist that a particular reel of a film is ending, as most films come to theaters on several reels of celluloid.

Cutting Room Studios

Cutting Room Studios is an audio mastering studio located in Stockholm, Sweden since 1980. Cutting Room was founded in the 1970s by Peter Strindberg, and is currently owned by Björn Engelmann. Sitting in a five studio location they have dedicated three of them to audio mastering. The remaining two studios have been dedicated to digital film, video restoration, DVD & Blu-ray as well as 7.1 audio mastering, which Cutting Room has been also working with since 2001.


DCI-P3, or DCI/P3, is a common RGB color space for digital movie projection from the American film industry.

Digital Cinema Package

A Digital Cinema Package (DCP) is a collection of digital files used to store and convey digital cinema (DC) audio, image, and data streams.

The term was popularized by Digital Cinema Initiatives, LLC in its original recommendation for packaging DC contents. However, the industry tends to apply the term to the structure more formally known as the Composition. ("You PLAY a Composition, You do NOT play a Digital Cinema Package".) A DCP is a “packing crate” for Compositions, a hierarchical file structure that represents a title version. The DCP may carry a partial Composition (e.g. not a complete set of files), a single complete Composition, or multiple and complete Compositions.The Composition consists of a Composition Playlist (in XML format) that defines the playback sequence of a set of Track Files. Track Files carry the essence, which is wrapped using Material eXchange Format (MXF). Two track files at a minimum must be present in every Composition (see SMPTE ST429-2 D-Cinema Packaging - DCP Constraints, or Cinepedia): a track file carrying picture essence, and a track file carrying audio essence. The Composition, consisting of a Composition Playlist and associated track files, are distributed as a Digital Cinema Package (DCP). It must be underscored that a Composition is a complete representation of a title version, while the DCP need not carry a full Composition. However, as already noted, it is commonplace in the industry to discuss the title in terms of a DCP, as that is the deliverable to the cinema.

The Picture Track File essence is compressed using JPEG 2000 and the Audio Track File carries a 24-bit linear PCM uncompressed multichannel WAV file. Encryption may optionally be applied to the essence of a track file to protect it from unauthorized use. The encryption used is AES 128-bit in CBC mode.

In practice, there are two versions of Composition is use. The original and commonly used version is called Interop DCP. In 2009, a specification was published by SMPTE (SMPTE ST 429-2 Digital Cinema Packaging - DCP Constraints) for what is commonly referred to as SMPTE DCP. SMPTE DCP is similar but not backwards compatible with Interop DCP, resulting in an uphill effort to transition the industry from Interop DCP to SMPTE DCP. SMPTE DCP requries significant constraints to ensure success in the field, as shown by ISDCF. While legacy support for Interop DCP is necessary for commercial products, new productions are encouraged to distribute in SMPTE DCP.

Digital cinema

Digital cinema refers to the use of digital technology to distribute or project motion pictures as opposed to the historical use of reels of motion picture film, such as 35 mm film. Whereas film reels have to be shipped to movie theaters, a digital movie can be distributed to cinemas in a number of ways: over the Internet or dedicated satellite links, or by sending hard drives or optical discs such as Blu-ray discs. Digital movies are projected using a digital video projector instead of a film projector. Digital cinema is distinct from high-definition television and does not necessarily use traditional television or other traditional high-definition video standards, aspect ratios, or frame rates. In digital cinema, resolutions are represented by the horizontal pixel count, usually 2K (2048×1080 or 2.2 megapixels) or 4K (4096×2160 or 8.8 megapixels). As digital-cinema technology improved in the early 2010s, most of the theaters across the world converted to digital video projection.

Digital intermediate

Digital intermediate (typically abbreviated to DI) is a motion picture finishing process which classically involves digitizing a motion picture and manipulating the color and other image characteristics.

Display aspect ratio

The aspect ratio of a display device is the proportional relationship between its width and its height. It is expressed as two numbers separated by a colon (x:y). Common aspect ratios for displays, past and present, include 5:4, 4:3, 16:10 and 16:9.

Event cinema

Event cinema sometimes called alternative content cinema or livecasts refers to the use of cinema theaters to display a varied range of live and recorded entertainment excluding traditional films, such as sport, opera, musicals, ballet, music,

one-off TV specials, current affairs, comedy and religious services.

Fools Guild

The Fools Guild is based in California, themed around the medieval and renaissance idea of the Court jester. The central activity of the Guild is producing three parties a year in Los Angeles: Halloween, New Year's Eve, and April Fool's Day.

Graphics display resolution

The graphics display resolution is the width and height dimension of an electronic visual display device, such as a computer monitor, in pixels. Certain combinations of width and height are standardized and typically given a name and an initialism that is descriptive of its dimensions. A higher display resolution in a display of the same size means that displayed photo or video content appears sharper, and pixel art appears smaller.

High frame rate

In motion picture technology—either film or video—high frame rate (HFR) refers to higher frame rates than typical prior practice.

The frame rate for motion picture film cameras was typically 24 frames per second (fps) with multiple flashes on each frame during projection to prevent flicker. Analog television and video employed interlacing where only half of the image (known as a video field) was recorded and played back/refreshed at once but at twice the rate of what would be allowed for progressive video of the same bandwidth, resulting in smoother playback, as opposed to progressive video which is more similar to how celluloid works. The field rate of analog television and video systems was typically 50 or 60 fields per second. Usage of frame rates higher than 24 FPS for feature motion pictures and higher than 30 FPS for other applications are emerging trends in the recent past.

Paramount Pictures

Paramount Pictures Corporation (also known simply as Paramount) is an American film studio based in Hollywood, California, that has been a subsidiary of the American media conglomerate Viacom since 1994. Paramount is the fifth oldest surviving film studio in the world, the second oldest in the United States, and the sole member of the "Big Six" film studios still located in the Los Angeles neighborhood of Hollywood.

In 1916, film producer Adolph Zukor put 22 actors and actresses under contract and honored each with a star on the logo. In 2014, Paramount Pictures became the first major Hollywood studio to distribute all of its films in digital form only. The company's headquarters and studios are located at 5555 Melrose Avenue, Hollywood, California, United States.The studio’s most notable franchises include: The Italian Job, The Godfather, Star Trek, The First four Indiana Jones films, Mission: Impossible, SpongeBob SquarePants, Beverly Hills Cop, Jackass, Top Gun, Cloverfield, Transformers, Tomb Raider, Friday the 13th, G.I. Joe, South Park, Anchorman, Grease, The Ring, Wayne's World, The Naked Gun, Pet Sematary, Beavis and Butthead, Bad News Bears, Rugrats, Crocodile Dundee, Paranormal Activity, and the first four of seven films of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Paramount Pictures is a member of the Motion Picture Association of America (MPAA).

Tom Waits for No One

Tom Waits for No One is a rotoscoped short film starring Tom Waits, singing "The One That Got Away" to an apparition.

Directed in 1979 by John Lamb of Lyon Lamb, it was among the first music videos of its kind, and nearly two years before the advent of MTV. The film, inspired by a performance of Waits at the Roxy in May 1977, captured a first place award at the first Hollywood Erotic Film and Video Festival in 1980. The film never saw commercial release and sat in obscurity for 30 years, when it went quietly viral on YouTube.

Filmed live at the La Brea Stage in Hollywood in six takes and edited down to five and a half minutes, the live frames were then traced using a "video rotoscope" and then converted by hand into animation. This particular combination of rotoscoping and pencil test, originally developed for Ralph Bakshi's American Pop, was considered innovative at the time, and assisted in winning Lyon Lamb a 1980 Academy Award for Scientific and Technical Achievement.The films' production team consisted of a wide range of industry professionals which includes:

David Silverman (animator): David was the first animator on the Simpsons, working with Klasky-Csupo on Simpson interstitials for The Tracey Ullman Show, later on to produce the Simpsons, The Wild Thorneberrys and Monsters Inc.

Keith Newton (rotoscope and character design): Keith moved on to Disney doing backgrounds and character design for Pocahontas, portrait artist on site at Epcot Center and Disney World in Florida.

Micheal Cressey (inker): Micheal went into a distinguished career of children's book publishing, writing 8 books and receiving the coveted Caldecott Award twice, among numerous others. Garrett Smith-live action camera: Garrett moved into an illustrious career at Paramount Studios and became an integral part in the development of HD with Texas Instruments.

Gary Beydler (live action camera): Gary was an esteemed film maker, photographer and fine artist with works in the MMA, Moca and a Newsweek cover article.

Donna Marie Gordon (dancer/model): Donna became a choreographic trainer for Las Vegas chorus girls for 18 years .

Ray Roberts extended his fine art talents and today is a renowned Plein Air painter and multiple award winner for his depictions of the Southwest.

Garrett Smith served as vice president, production technology and digital mastering operations at Paramount Pictures. He was actively involved in the development of DVD, HDTV and a member of Digital Cinema Initiatives. Today, Smith is a member of the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and serves on the Science and Technology Council as Co-Chair of the Next Generation Technology Project.

John Lamb received an Academy Award for Scientific and Technical Achievement in 1980 for co-invention of the Lyon Lamb Video Animation System (VAS). Lamb also developed and manufactured the first video rotoscope system in 1979. Continuously working in the graphic arts and animation over the last three decades, Lamb recently opened his latest art project "Blast from the Past" in Oceanside, Ca.Recently, a cel from the production became part of the Tom Waits permanent exhibit at the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame in Cleveland, Ohio.

Virtual Print Fee

Virtual Print Fee (VPF) is a subsidy paid by a film distributor towards the purchase of digital cinema projection equipment for use by a film exhibitor in the presentation of first release motion pictures. The subsidy is paid in the form of a fee per booking of a movie, intended to match the savings that occurs by not shipping a film print. The model is designed to help redistribute the savings realized by studios when using digital distribution instead of film print distribution.

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