Thursday, August 30, 2012

Delivering to a Distributor

We just yesterday shipped off deliverables to Image Entertainment, the distribution company that will be handling the recent film I directed, The Solomon Bunch. It occurred to me that some may be interested in what a distribution company requires, since it is always good to know before you start what will be needed in the end. Of course, different companies have different requirements, and the requirements are also different when delivering for theatrical release than for DVD/VOD (as was the case with this one). Still, it may help to know the list we fulfilled for Image...

   • HD master of the feature in the original aspect ratio
   • HD master of the feature in 16:9 anamorphic (1.78 aspect ratio)
   • SD down conversion in original ratio enhanced for 16:9 anamorphic
   • SD pan & scan version in 4:3 ratio (this was not a lot of fun)
   • HD master of the trailer and bonus features
   • Viewable DVD's of each of the above for their reviewers

   • 4-Channel audio built into each of the above masters (1/2 Stereo, 3/4 Music & Effects Mix)
   • Dialog, Music and Effects stems as stand-alone stereo files
   • 5.1 Multi-channel surround file
   • All original music cues as stand-alone files
   • Playable audio CD containing all music cues for their reviewers

   • Pop-on closed captions in the formats of .cap, .scc and .txt

Each of the master video files also had to include "textless elements at the tail." This means that any segment of the movie or trailer that included text (credits, location descriptions, etc.) had to be included at the end of the film as "clean" clips. When they do foreign language versions of the film, they will now be able to do new titles in place of the English. Also, with the sound DM&E files, they have the option to drop the dialog altogether in favor of a new language or they can simply duck the dialog track to a much lower level so as not to compete with the translation. This can be done without harming the music and effects levels, which they have as distinct "stems" (def: a sub-mixdown of all tracks in a particular category). What they were not interested in was any of the editing or mixing files from Final Cut/Avid/Nuendo, etc. The locked picture is all they required.

What I have listed here is the mastering deliverables only. There were also Creative and Legal deliverables. Creative included artwork, photos, logos, press reviews and quotes, etc. Legal included proof of ownership of all aspects of the film and story, copyright registrations, production contracts with cast, creatives, crew and locations, tax forms for the corporation and a certificate of E&O insurance (which is quite expensive, by the way).

Click the "Film Directing" link at right for more about what we learned on this film.