Over the last decade, the post-production industry has been suffering. Large post houses like Technicolor or Deluxe have been hit the worst as the need for their services is shrinking by the day. In fact post-production has been called a dying industry by many, even making BNET’s ‘Top 10 Dying Industries’ list, and for good reason.
Years ago you needed a lab to process film, print tapes, handle large amounts of data, etc. and the only place to get this done was of course at a large post house. Doing this yourself, or at a small shop was simply impossible. But today, low cost laptops and software are far more powerful and capable than even the most expensive proprietary hardware of yesteryear. And yes, this is making large scale post-production industry suffer, but at the same time smaller scale post-houses and freelance editors have been benefiting immensely. There is certainly no shortage of content being produced, in fact there is more new content being made now than ever before in history, and of course all of these projects need post-work. So where is the post-work going? To freelancers, boutique shops, or in some cases it is kept in house at the production company. While many companies (like Avid) seem to be ignoring this trend and attempting to maintain an old business model that is becoming more outdated by the day, there are some companies that are the forefront of this industry wide change. Possibly the best example of this is Blackmagic Design.
When Blackmagic first released DaVinci Resolve, it was an anomaly. They took a platform that at one point cost $100,000 and released it for $1000. Not to mention they also released a free version of it which was nearly as capable as the full version. This same low-cost-high-quality mentality is seen through their other products, most obviously the Blackmagic Cinema Camera which out performs many cameras that cost 10 times the price of it. Getting back to Davinci Resolve though, now Blackmagic have taken things to the next level with version 10 of Resolve, which is packed with new features and absolutely incredible. I’ve already had a chance to play around with it and am very much looking forward to grading a commercial project with it this coming week. I’ll be sure to do a writeup at that point on my experience with the software, but for now I felt a post was warranted to highlight what I think is one of the most amazing features of the software – easyDCP Creation.
For those of you that don’t know what a DCP is, it is the standard format for delivering a film to theatres with digital projection (essentially a hard drive with data files on it). You may be thinking this doesn’t apply to you if you aren’t distributing your film theatrically, but it does apply to you if you want to screen your film at festivals, as most of them (large and small) are now preferring to take DCP’s over other file based formats. And for you editors that are reading this, now you have another service that you can offer your clients that used to only be available by larger post houses or specialty shops.
Over the last few years, it’s really gotten under my skin whenever I’ve heard about the outrageous prices that large post houses charge to create DCP’s. Ultimately at it’s core, all a DCP is, is a hard drive with two folders in it. One containing an image sequence and one containing the audio files. That’s it. I have some friends and colleagues that have been creating their own DCP’s for years now by simply exporting their video and audio in the right formats and mastering it to an approved hard drive. While this works, it isn’t ideal for most users as it’s a bit more complex of a process than the average editor/producer may be capable of handling.
But now with DaVinci Resolve 10, this functionality has been brought to the masses. Anyone with a laptop can now create a DCP, and it’s one less service that the large post-houses will be able to price gauge their customers with. Here is the official product note:
For project delivery, DaVinci Resolve 10 includes full audio track visibility in the deliver window timeline as well as EasyDCP integration so users can render directly from their project timeline into a Digital Cinema Package for release to theaters. Because DaVinci Resolve 10 allows rendering from the camera RAW file directly to the Digital Cinema Package files in the highest quality 32 bit float, there is simply no better quality possible for a cinema release master. Customers simply need to purchase a license from EasyDCP to enable this feature.
So yes, there is going to be an additional cost involved to set yourself up for this, as you will need to pay a licensing fee to easyDCP (the software company that is powering this capability), but in my opinion that is a small price to pay for the potential that you have with this.
It’s a good time for independent film, especially when we have companies like Blackmagic Design who are helping to push the boundaries both in terms of production and post-production technology. To hear about my post-workflow for a project I recently used DaVinci Resolve on, be sure to read my article on My Sundance Submission Cut On FCP X and Graded In DaVinci Resolve.
Check back soon as I will be posting a review on DaVinci Resolve 10. One of the features I’m hoping to get into in depth is their new support for OFX plugins, which now allows third party plugins like FilmConvert to work directly inside of Resolve. That’s pretty amazing!