Now, you have a hard disk to put your DCP on, but you’ve learned it needs to be ext2/3 formatted. What’s that? Every operating system has it’s own way of formatting hard disks and other media. What formatting does is putting a certain file system on the disk to make your computers Operating System (OS) able to read and write it. Windows uses FAT and NTFS, OSX/MacOS uses HFS+ and APFS and Linux can use a lot, amongst which ext2 and ext3. The vast majority of digital cinema servers are Linux machines, which can read FAT and ext2/3, but not HFS+ or APFS. Some of them can read NTFS as well, but it is not something you can rely on. FAT does only accomodate for max 4GB filesize so if you did not make a very short film, ext2/3 is the only option when you want your DCP to be accessible everywhere. Ext3 is the same as ext2, but journaled, which means things go quicker than in ext2.
Before i continue on ext2/3:
What about NTFS?
Quite some cinema servers can read NTFS disks. If you have to make one disk for one festival or one theatre it is worth asking them if they can accept NTFS disks, as this is a lot easier for you. NTFS is native Windows file system and there is an easy way to make OSX/MacOS read and write NTFS as well. This way you will not have the difficulty getting your OS read and write to ext2/3.
The best thing is to get software that enables you to read AND write to ext3 from Windows or Mac. DuckDuckGo can help you easily. This might cost you a few bucks but will save you a LOT of time. Check if the software has good references, you better not pay for something not worth it.
You can try GParted Live. It is a Linux program that you can run from a USB or CD-ROM drive without the need to install Linux. With this you can format the disk in ext2 or ext3. But this jumps only one of the two hurdles. You still need a way to read and write to ext2/3 from the OS that you made your DCP with.
A better option is to have Linux and use it to format ext2 or ext3, and make that Linux machine able to read the disk that your DCP is on. These are the options if you decide to go for Linux:
(Free:) Create a live Linux CD, DVD or USB from a downloaded image and start your computer (Mac or pc) from it. You now have a full working Linux machine with which you can format your storage ext3. But it might be difficult to access the drive where your DCP(s) resides.
(Will cost you more than software that enables your current OS to read and write ext2/3:) Buy a simple pc and install Linux on it. If you think a new machine is a nice treat, consider buying a good one so you can also use it for making your DCPs.
(Free:) Maybe there’s some old machine lying around that is too slow to work with these days, but it still works: Great! Install Linux on it. Linux can be installed on almost any machine, even Mac G4.
(Free:) If you do not have a spare machine and don’t want to waste money on more gear, you’ll have to make one: a virtual machine (VM). For making VMs there’s a free solution called VirtualBox. Look at the VB page for some guidance, but if you feel uncertain, read more about VirtualBox (VB) and the Linux distribution from the websites where you download them. There also are payed apps that run virtual machines like VMWare and Parallels, but if you want to pay for that it might be wiser to spend the money on software that enables your current OS to read and write ext2/3.
There are many Linux distributions. I choose Lubuntu It’s lightweight but also connected to the established and well maintained Ubuntu.
Once you have Linux installed:
Make sure any data on the disk you will be using to put your DCP on is backed up! The disk will be completely erased!
Double check and then connect this disk. Erase all partitions and make one new empty partition with MBR and eject the drive when ready. (In OSX you use Disk Utility for this; select MBR in Options; ctrl+click on the drive to eject).
Once Linux is running, you can connect the drive from step 2 and format it using GParted. Be sure to choose ext2 or ext3. The default ext4 will give you a disk that will not be recognized by most cinema servers!
Once the disk is formatted to ext3 (or ext2), check if it is MBR and inode size is 128 Bytes. If this is correct than you can start copying your DCP to this disk. Best is to use rsync or Grsync for that.
If you want to be shure if the DCP is transferred correctly, install Digital Cinema Tools in your Linux OS, and run dcp_inspect on the folder that is your DCP on the ext3 disk. This will take quite a while. Errors will mean your DCP is not usable. (There is an alternative way: As i pointed out in the DCP page, it makes no sense making a DCP yourself if you can not check it in a cinema; so you might choose to see if your DCP loads fine there to know if the transfer is okay). Remember that even one single faulty bit will often prevent the DCP from being playable! After all that, unmount the disk and eject it.
- Ship your DCP, read about that in my DCP article or on KESE
Please look at my Links page for more detailed info!
Henk Rhebergen, edited march 2021