D-I-Y DCP Creation using OpenDCP

[Editor note: This is a guest post by the wonderful Chris Young. He’s making his own 3D short film from the ground up. -eagleapex]

My goal was to make OpenDCP work on a Sony SRX R-320 and after numerous attempts — as an independent filmmaker, I am elated to say it worked perfectly! It wouldn’t have been possible if Terrence Meiczinger hadn’t developed OpenDCP.

Admittedly, a few weeks ago I didn’t know much, if anything, about creating DCP files… let alone a stereoscopic 3D-DCP. I had recently finished work on a self produced and directed short film, “Dead of Nowhere”, that I was able to make largely in part utilizing the crowd-based funding site Indiegogo. I used a Final Cut Pro / 2K Cineform workflow to edit and finish my film. I shot my film guerilla style in one day, handheld on location with the Element Technica Dark-Country beamsplitter rig, recording to a 1-Beyond Wrangler. When I learned that it was going to cost somewhere between $1,500 and $3,000 to have my ten minute film encoded in order to have it shown in a realD™ equipped theater, I knew I had to find an alternate “indie” solution to create my DCP.

After investigating all of the commercial solutions (easyDCP, Doremi, etc.) and speaking with several “indie-friendly” post houses — all of whom bid out of my price range… I stumbled onto OpenDCP.

While the notion of using an open-source command-line tool, still in development, isn’t for the faint of heart, and I am by no means a Unix Pro, the process was pretty simple once I understood how the OpenDCP tools worked.

There have been plenty of how-to posts, so I won’t get into a lot of detail here… but basically after getting my film into a Left Eye / Right Eye TIFF sequence at the correct aspect ratio (1998 x 1080), the frame rate at (24p), ensuring that my audio was the exact same length (intrinsic value) and the correct sample rate (24bit), it was a fairly straight forward process to convert to XYZ jpeg2000 (.j2c) using opendcp_j2k and then using opendcp_mxf to wrap the stereoscopic-picture and main-audio elements into separate mxf files. After figuring out that I needed to be sure to have the digest (-d) and annotation (-a) tags set in opendcp_xml, it was then just a simple matter of getting these files onto a drive to load into a cinema server.

Now, don’t get me wrong, this will probably not work the first time. I had to make several trips back and forth to the theater, trying various DCP versions (interop and smpte) and hard drive formats (I settled on NTFS).

If you’re an indie-filmmaker, trying to get your film digitally packaged for exhibition and don’t have the money to spend, or are the kind of person (like me) that enjoys learning about every step of the process — I couldn’t recommend a better, more rewarding way of creating a DCP.

More information about OpenDCP and DEAD OF NOWHERE can be found here:
OpenDCP Link: http://code.google.com/p/opendcp/
Short Film: http://www.deadofnowhere.com
Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/deadofnowhere

Why I won’t be buying a new Mac any time soon

Apple gave everyone a new shiny thing to talk about today and I will not be left out of the discussion! Apple’s refreshed MacBook Pro contains a new Intel chipset Core i5 and i7, codenamed Sandy Bridge. Sandy Bridge chainOne lovely “feature” of this new processor is the Intel Insider built in to every Core i chip. This feature unlocks HD content playback on your machine for a limited time. Intel denies that this is DRM, and rightly so. DRM has been a hated buzzword among consumers and Apple alike. (No customer ever asks for more restrictions.) What Intel Insider has is worse: trusted computing, and for the worst reason too. It seems Hollywood has asked our biggest processor manufacturer to protect their business model with a feature that prevents streaming video from being recorded. Doesn’t that sound kind of unhinged?

Trusted computing is a hardware solution to the problem of trust. It has some noble goals. Your computer today may be exploited in some invisible way, but a trusted computing platform would verify all the code through it’s own protected hardware before allowing any software to run at all. The only way around this is to saw away at a encryption chip epoxied onto your motherboard. So, no malware is a good thing, right? That sounds fine until the keys to the computer are taken out of your hands and given to Hollywood/Intel/Apple/anyone-else because you, a de-facto pirate, can’t be trusted. Just wait until your repressive authorities request control of your shiny MacBook from Apple, and Apple acquiesces.

Add to that the recent processor recall, and it’s a scary time to buy new Mac hardware. Isn’t there room enough in the smart consumer market for some Linux hardware that Just Works? Today I’m one step closer to kicking my addiction for sandblasted aluminum and high-strength alkali-aluminosilicate glass.

Of course, I got all my opinions from the story 0wnz0red written Cory Doctorow for Salon.

Week of 2/23/11 Open House Recap

Tonight  was great. The space was busy with so many people working on so many different things. Including a public mini project where we made geometric figures out of paper clips and solder, and various 3D printing projects.

There were some pretty interesting discussions tonight too, ranging from urban exploration to video game development.

Also, and most excitingly, our very own Adam Kaufman showed off a new product that he’s been working on. More details to come.

Hope to see you there next week!

Open House, 2/23/2011


Tonight, we will be making geometric figures out of paper clips, jumper wire, and solder. It’s a fun way to practice your soldering skills, as some of the joints can be quite difficult to arrange.

All About Patents

Patents, an oldie but a goodie
Patents, an oldie but a goodie

We had some questions about provisional and full patent applications. Here’s some notes we got from a while back talking to a patent attorney.

In general, US Patents cost ~$10-25,000.

In the US, the right to hold a patent is based on a “first to invent” policy. Example: Bob invents something. At a later time, Jim invents something identical and files for a patent. Bob later files for a patent. Jim’s patent will be rejected and Bob will get the patent because he invented it first (assuming he has proof). Proof of invention is typically a notebook or extremely detailed record of the invention. It does not necessarily need to be “the idea sent to yourself by certified mail.” Sending the idea to yourself by certified mail is not necessary for certifying invention date, but can sometimes be useful to prove that you have “prior art” to invalidate someone else’s patent.

The reason to do a simultaneous international filing is that the US is the only country that is first-to-invent. All other countries are first-to-file. Meaning that if you file in US only, and someone in another country sees your patent (the submissions become public in 6 months, well before the patents are granted or the provisional 1-year deadline gets close), then you can actually lose rights to the patent in other countries and their patent will supersede yours in those countries. You really want to do the filing here.

Normal trade-secret laws can be used to protect your idea without having to do anything else as long as you don’t disclose the idea to someone not under NDA. This means that writing a detailed account of your invention and keeping it locked up is enough to protect yourself. Get a good notebook, keep very detailed notes, date and sign every page, and keep the notebook somewhere safe. If someone breaks in and steals your idea, this situation falls under normal trade-secret laws, and you are protected. The only way to protect an idea after non-NDA disclosure is to submit a patent application within one year.

In the US, there is a 1 yr “on-sale or bar date” limit. An individual has exactly 1 year from the date of public disclosure of his invention to file a patent. This is a very strict limit. If a patent application has not been filed by this date, the individual is barred forever from filing a patent for this invention. This limit has been put in place to encourage people to disclose their inventions and put them to use asap.

The best/most secure option is to get a patent application on file asap. It can cost anywhere from $5-10,000 to get the process started. You can generally file a provisional patent application which is initially cheaper than filing for a full patent outright. This can help to give you more time (one year to get a utility file submitted), and allows you to use the “patent pending” moniker on your marketing materials. The provisional patent is typically a detailed explanation of the idea, as well as a cover letter. As long as the invention is disclosed, the person that files the patent application is fully protected. Also, it is best to have an attorney assist with the provisional application because if an attorney does not assist, the individual may mistakenly not disclose the idea properly or fully and therefore may not be protected. Filing a provisional application and then eventually a patent will cost more than filing outright for the patent, but it can help to defer costs by up to one year.

For help filing a patent or a provisional application, patent agents are needed. Not all patent agents are attorneys, and indeed, some very good patent agents can often be cheaper than attorneys who also file patents (and who may not be very good). There are many patent agents in Philadelphia, and you can find one by looking on the PTO website.
Elsewhere in the world, the right to a patent is usually based on a “first to file” policy. However, because of treaties with the US, if you file a patent in the US, you have a 1 year grace period before you have to file any international patents. If you file international patents, you get a priority date identical to the date for the US patent. Example: Bob has an idea, and publicly discloses it to an audience in the US. Jim is from a treaty nation, sees Bob’s idea, and rushes back to his country of origin to file a patent. As long as Bob files a patent within one year of disclosure in the US, and also files an international patent in the same country as Jim within one year, Bob will be covered in that country and Jim’s patent application will be rejected.

To ease the difficulty with filing international patents, you can file a single Patent Cooperation Treaty (PCT) application to start the patent process simultaneously in many different countries.The PCT application is not a full patent application, but eases the burden on the individual filing the patent, and can defer (for several years) the significant costs associated with filing patents in other countries. Each patent must be translated into the native language of each country to which it is submitted, and this can obviously take large amounts of time and money.

The monopoly for a granted US patent is enforceable for 20 years (from the date of public disclosure of the invention).
Independent creation is a defense for copyrighted material, not for patents. Example:
Copyright: Bob writes a book; Jim writes the *exact* same book without knowledge of Bob’s book. Both Bob and Jim are allowed to sell their books.
Patent: Bob has an invention and submits a patent application. Jim invents the identical invention without knowledge of Bob’s invention. Bob can sue Jim for damages because Bob has proof that he was “first to invent.”

1) Keep a notebook. Write down your invention with as much detail as possible, sign and date each page, and describe the invention as well as you can.

2) Decide if you have the resources to submit a patent application, or at least for getting a provisional patent application.

3) Be mindful and keep aware: don’t miss that 1 year deadline! This rule is non-negotiable with the US patent office.

Week of 2/13/11 Open House Recap

Well another open house has gone by and it sure was a lot of fun. Last night was literally bursting at the seams with activity as we had people doing all manner of things from working on 3D printers, experimenting with electronic music sequencing, and all the way to people working on top secret projects.

Of course we also had our second game of Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator last night, which was (I believe) our 3rd gaming night. Again, we had a blast playing quite a few rounds (some being a bit shorter than others) at full crew capacity. We had a few first timers playing with us so that’s always fun. I for one can’t wait until next month’s game!

Toward the end of the night we had another impromptu music session, but this time instead of karaoke we did some jamming with electronic instruments and sequencers. The group consisted of Brendan Schrader and PJ Santoro on sequencing units, and Jack Zylkin and I on keyboard synthesizers/samplers. Could a possible musical project be brewing at Hive? I guess we’ll see!

See you next week!

We’re Boldly Going, Again

Hey folks,

This Wednesday at our next open house we’re hosting another game night with Thom Robertson’s excellent Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator. Artemis is a networked computer game that allows players to simulate the operations of a spaceship much like what you’d see on Star Trek™. The setting of the game is the command bridge of the ship, and each player is given a station to operate (such as helm, tactical, science, etc). Another player takes the role of captain, who attempts to conduct the crew and guide the ship on a successful mission. We had a blast last month with the game, and since then Thom has implemented quite a few significant upgrades so we’re bound to have even more fun this time.

Players need only to bring a netbook or laptop (preferably with Windows) to play, and the game software will be provided.

Game Night with Artemis Spaceship Bridge Simulator
Hive 76 (915 Spring Garden)
Wednesday, February 16th @ 8:00 PM.


New class: SketchUp for 3D Printing

made with SketchUp, printed at Hive76
Made with SketchUp, printed at Hive76

We are offering a class on how to use Google’s free 3D program SketchUp. SketchUp is not the most powerful CAD program out there, but its intuitive design and price make it a great start if you are curious about conjuring solid objects out of plastic and bytes.

This class will run Saturday, February 2/26 from 10am to 3pm at Hive76

You will learn:

  • How to make simple stuff in SketchUp
  • How not to ruin a model by poking holes in it, what “manifold” means.
  • The basic process of FDM 3D printing
  • The limitations of the Makerbot

And most importantly, you get to print and take home a thing!

Continue reading “New class: SketchUp for 3D Printing”