Digital Cinema Package (DCP) [MPD-D3]

Record Type: Digital Output from Motion Picture Film Source

Expected Use: Distribution Copy

Product Name: Digital Cinema Package (DCP) [MPD-D3]

Product Purpose: The purpose of this product is to create a 2K or 4K Digital Cinema Package (DCP) that may be projected in a theater environment. DCPs are created in response to requests from the Moving Image and Sound archival unit and Presidential Libraries for copies of motion picture records for digital theatrical exhibition.

Nature of Source Material: 4K DCPs may be created from 4K ProRes 4444 MOV (QuickTime File Format) files or 2K/4K DPX (Digital Moving-Picture Exchange) sequences and WAV (Waveform) files captured from any 16mm and 35mm film elements. 2K DCPs may be created from these same sources, as well as HD (High Definition) AVI (Audio Video Interleaved) reproduction masters captured from any film elements.

Possible File Derivatives: Derivatives are not made from this product category.

Other Information:

  • DCPs created by the National Archives and Records Administration (NARA) are unencrypted and do not require an encryption key to play back.
  • Due to its large file size and special playback requirements, this product is not accessed directly by researchers and is only used for theatrical exhibition.
  • The integrity of the source’s aspect ratio will be maintained.
  • Because they are intended for exhibition, DCPs often contain additional image improvements such as the use of restoration tools including dust and scratch removal as needed and scene-by-scene color correction.

File Properties

Container Format

MXF (Material Exchange Format), OP-Atom format profile

File Specifications

Image Data

  • JPEG2000
  • 4K resolution is 4096x2160
  • 2K resolution is 2048x1080
  • Pillarboxed to maintain native aspect ratio
  • Frame rate: 24 fps (unless source has different native frame rate)
  • Progressive


Audio Data (if present)

  • Linear Pulse Code Modulation (LPCM)
  • Sampling frequency: 48 kHz
  • Bit depth: 24 bit
  • Channels: 2

Quality Control

Quality Assurance and Quality Control

The sources for DCPs include MOV and AVI video files, WAV audio files, and DPX sequences. NARA uses a commercially available, automated batch processing software tool to evaluate specific quality metrics for video and audio files created directly from film captures (see MPD-R1MPD-R2 and MPD-P6). DPX quality control (QC) is done using visual review and inspection of technical characteristics (see MPD-P1). All files of the DCP are stored and transmitted together in the same folder to ensure playback capability is maintained.


The DCP folder name contains metadata that associates the files with external sources of descriptive and technical metadata. The name is a unique identifier composed of the item’s record group, series, item number, and reel number.


The NARA Motion Picture Preservation Lab uses checksum verification for file transfers and files in long-term storage.


DCPs are the standard format for digital theatrical projection. Because they are intended for repeated use, the files are retained in managed storage.