Approval Process for Distant Locations


Documentaries are permitted to shoot at distant locations within the contiguous United States. Permission to travel must be attained in advance from the Documentary development instructor.


BFA and MFA thesis films may also request permission to shoot at a distant location outside of the studio zone. Due to the added complexity of shooting thesis films at distant locations and the added wear-and-tear on school equipment, approval will only be granted in exceptional circumstances.

Students will need to present a thorough case to faculty that addresses the following:

  1. Why this location is essential to the success of the film.
  2. A budget/plan for transporting, housing, and feeding the cast and crew for the duration of the distant shoot.
  3. A budget/plan for transporting, housing, and feeding a faculty member for the duration of the distant shoot.
  4. A budget/plan for transporting, parking, and securely managing school vehicles and equipment during the distant shoot.
  5. A back-up plan for if the camera or other mission-critical equipment go down.
  6. A schedule showing key deadlines for locking locations, securing accommodations, and any other critical plans. Permission for shooting at a distant location will be revoked if these deadlines are not hit, and the production will need to shoot locally.
  7. A schedule of travel days and drive times during the production week.
  8. A local back-up plan, in case permission is not granted and/or the distant location falls through.

The request to shoot at a distant location should be made as early as possible in the development/pre-production process, and no later than two weeks before the first day of production on the show. Approval must be received from the people:

  1. Director’s Prep Faculty
  2. Head of Set Operations (David Wiley)
  3. Head of Production (Tony Ciarlariello)
  4. Associate Dean (Andrew Syder)

Public Domain & Creative Commons Resources

The Internet is a wonderful place for finding videos, images, motion graphics, clip art, music, and sound effects that can be used in your films. Below is a list of resources to help with finding stuff that’s either in the Public Domain (belongs to all of us) or Creative Commons (licensed by the author for others to use).

Beware, however, that the Internet is also a terribly unreliable place and the burden of proof will fall on you to document that you actually have the rights to use any of the stuff you dig up, so that you have a clear chain of title on your film.

For works in the Public Domain, this can sometimes take a fair amount of research, as there is often unclear and unreliable information circulating about works that are supposedly in the public domain. Any works published in 1924 or earlier are now in the public domain. Any works published after 1924 should be assumed to be under copyright, unless otherwise confirmed. Also be aware that new versions of works public domain — e.g., the New York Symphony Orchestra’s recent recording of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony are copyrighted. In other words, you could perform the composition yourself and be okay, but you couldn’t use the New York Symphony Orchestra’s recording without clearing it first.

For Creative Commons work, some license types (such as “NoDerivs” and “ShareAlike”) are not compatible with the work we do, so you would not be able to use that work in your film. Generally speaking, you’ll need to look for works that are licensed either as “Attribution” or “Attribution-NonCommercial”. (Note, however, that many authors who’ve opted for a NoDerivs or ShareAlike license may be open to giving you permission to use their work if you contact them directly. If they are willing, you’ll need to follow the usual process of acquiring a licensing agreement for a copyrighted work.)



Motion Graphics

Clip art


  • Muse Open – classical music
  • Free Music Archive – interactive library of high-quality, legal audio downloads directed by WFMU, the most renowned freeform radio station in America.
  • Free music public domain
  • Freesound – a collaborative database of Creative Commons Licensed sounds.
  • Anthony Kozar – Composer and open-source programmer
  • Audionautix – The music on this site is the creation of Jason Shaw.
  • – Download royalty free stock music for YouTube and your multimedia projects.
  • Brett Van Donsel provides affordable music options for filmmakers, YouTubers, gamers, podcasters, advertisers and more. Most of the music is royalty free. 
  • – Over 600 tracks, free even for commercial use, primarily with cinematic music by Sascha Ende.
  • Gravity Sound – Free Music and Sound Effects for Personal and Commercial Use
  • Incompetech – Royalty free music by Kevin MacLeod
  • Josh Woodward – Acoustic indie rock singer/songwriter. Creative Commons Music.
  • King James – Royalty free music
  • – This site contains royalty-free mp3s for you to listen, download and do whatever you want with.
  • Natentine – Download the right royalty free music for YouTube videos, film, corporate videos, games and more.
  • Silverman Sound Studios – Background music for YouTube, videos, games, films, adverts, podcasts, anything! All totally free to download!
  • TechnoAXE – Royalty Free Music for your commercial/non-commercial videos or projects. This website has Techno, Dubstep, Metal, Rock or Soundtrack.
  • Tim Beek – Music for media
  • Twin Musicom – Innovative audio production
  • WOWA – Free music

Sound effects

EVA1 Tutorial Videos

Module 1: Package contents

Keith reviews the contents of the EVA1 package, which includes the camera, tripod system, battery charger, and sound case. (Transcript)

Module 2: Battery build

Keith demonstrates how to operate the battery charger module for the EVA1 camera. (Transcript)

Module 3: Camera build

Keith demonstrates the quick-release plate for the tripod, media cards, filters, the sun shield, and the two LCD monitors. (Transcript)

Module 4: Handheld rig

Keith demonstrates mounting the EVA to the handheld rig. (Transcript)

Module 5: Button Layout

Module 6: Menu operations

Safety Bulletins

Safety Bulletins are researched, written, and distributed by the Industry-Wide Labor-Management Safety Committee for use by the motion picture and television industry. The Safety Committee is composed of guild, union, and management representatives active in industry safety and health programs.

Safety Bulletins are guidelines recommended by the Safety Committee. They are not binding laws or regulations. State, federal, and/or local regulations, where applicable, override these guidelines. Modifications in these guidelines should be made, as circumstances warrant, to ensure the safety of the cast and crew.

A PDF of all relevant Safety Bulletins must be attached to Call Sheets or otherwise distributed to affected employees. All crew are required to read distributed Safety Bulletins prior to commencing the work day. Failure to do so may result in disciplinary action, including immediate dismissal from the school.

General Safety


Artificial Haze

Chemicals and Flammable Materials

Electrical Safety

Environmental Concerns

Filming Equipment and Vehicles

Stunts and Special Effects

Water Hazards



Documentary Post Overview

Track 1 (Mac Pro Lab)

  • Picture Start: Thursday April 4th, 9:00am
  • 1st Cut Screening: Monday April 8th, 9:30am – Mix A
  • 2nd Cut Screening: Friday April 12th, 9:30am – Mix A
  • Picture Lock: Monday April 15th, 6:00pm
  • VFX/Animation Lock: Tuesday April 23rd, 6:00pm*

*All visual effects, animation, or motion graphics need to be completed and cut back into your show for final export and quality control check by this time.

Track 2 (iMac Lab)

  • Picture Start: Saturday April 13th, 9:00am
  • 1st Cut Screening: Wednesday April 17th, 9:30am – Mix A
  • 2nd Cut Screening: Saturday April 20th, 9:30am – Mix A
  • Picture Lock: Wednesday April 24th, 6:00pm
  • VFX/Animation Lock: Wednesday April 24th, 6:00pm*

*All visual effects, animation, or motion graphics need to be completed and cut back into your show for final export and quality control check by this time.

Delivery specs

Videos for cut screenings must be delivered to the class folder on the network at least 1hr before the screening.

Visual effects, animation, and motion graphics delivery specs:

  • Codec: DNxHD HQX
  • Resolution: 1920×1080 pixels
  • Frame rate: 24.000 frames-per-second
  • Pixel bit depth: 10-bit
  • Pixel aspect: Square pixels

Sound Mixer Handbook (EVA1)

Each documentary group will be issued a standard sound package for use on location, which includes a boom mic and a wireless radio lavaliere mic. On the documentary projects, the Panasonic EVA1 camera is used for recording all sound; the use of any other sound recording devices must be approved in advance by the Head of Post Production.

Documentary sound package inventory

  • Sennheiser ME-66 Short shotgun mic with shock-mount/windscreen
  • Two 20’ XLR cables
  • Two 6’ XLR cables
  • Duplex extension cable
  • Sony MDR 7506 headset w/adaptor for Duplex cable
  • 100cc K-Tek boom pole in travel case
  • Lectrosonics L Series wireless transmitter/receiver set with:
    • Sankin COS-11 lav mic, windscreen and tie clasp
    • Mini XLR to XLR cable
    • Camera mount shoe  

Panasonic EVA1 audio set-up overview

The camera should be (pre-)configured to accept a phantom-powered boom mic plugged to Input 1 and a wireless receiver plugged to Input 2.

Both input gain controls should be set to MAN and adjusted so there is a meter deflection averaging midway on the audio meter in the LCD display with PEAK deflections to around -10dB.

Menu settings:

Menu-Audio Settings-Audio CH Settings:

  • CH 1 In Select INPUT 1
  • CH 2 In Select INPUT 2
  • CH 1 MIC Lowcut ON
  • CH 2 MIC Lowcut OFF

Menu-Audio Settings-Audio INPUT Settings:

  • INPUT 1-MIC/Line MIC
  • INPUT 1-MIC Power ON
  • INPUT 2-MIC Power OFF
  • INPUT 1-Mic Level -60dB
  • INPUT 2-Mic Level -60dB
  • INPUT 1-LINE Level 4dB
  • INPUT 2-LINE Level 0dB

Menu-Audio Settings-Audio Output Settings:

  • MONITOR: Stereo
  • DELAY: Live
  • REC. Beep Sound: OFF
  • ALARM:
    • Battery End: MED
    • Media End: MED

Boom mic setup

The boom mic should always be used at least as a backup if something should happen to the lav mic. It can also serve as an interviewer mic with the lav on the subject. The boom can also be used for ambience, particularly if you are at unique or interesting sounding location.

Attach the mic, shock-mount, windscreen to the pole, plug the pole to the mic and using the appropriate cabling, plug the pole to the camera. Confirm levels on meters in the LCD display.

Radio mic setup

Here are the manufacturer’s operating manuals:

First, put fresh AA batteries in both the transmitter and receiver. These units are pretty hungry so the use of lithium batteries is highly recommended; although more expensive per battery, you will yield considerably more runtime and need a lot less of them!

NOTE: Lithium batteries MUST be recycled. They are an environmental hazard and must be disposed of responsibly. There is a container bin in the ER.

Next, mount the receiver and “shoe” to the rear accessory mount on camera handle. Use the Mini XLR to XLR cable to connect from the audio output on the receiver to Input 2 on the camera.

Next, power ON only the RECEIVER to see if you are tuned to a clear frequency or to one in use by another system. You want to see no “RF signal strength” at this point, since your transmitter is not yet turned on.

If you do see any signal strength while the transmitter is still off, it means that another system in the area is already using that frequency. Find a clear operating frequency using one of two methods (use one or the other). You can select a different block or change the carrier frequency.

  1. Using “Smart Tune”
  2. Manually

Next, power ON the TRANSMITTER, use the RED switch on top. The unit should wake up in full-transmit RF mode. If not, or if you powered the transmitter with the front panel button, enter Menu, scroll to “RF On?” and select RF On.

The transmitter should be set to match the carrier frequency and block of the Receiver either manually or with the IR Sync feature in the receivers:

  1. Enter Menu
  2. Select “IR Sync”
  3. Aim the top of receiver at top front of transmitter at a right angle until transmitter reads “OK”

Next, set/check the initial gain structure of transmitter input gain. Initial suggested settings:

  • Transmitter Input Gain at 20
  • Receiver Audio Level at +5

This sets unity gain throughout the system. From the transmitter output, through the receiver and into the camera, levels are now dependent on the input gain setting of the transmitter. Meter readings on the camera should closely match that on the transmitters; readjust the input gain settings on the transmitter as necessary (not the recorder or receiver output settings). You may use the recorder input gain settings for quick gain up, but never to correct a high gain or overloaded condition.

Securing mic to subject

The mic wants to be located towards the center axis of the torso and on the outer edge of the outer layer of clothing. Try to avoid placement where one layer of clothing would rub on another. Listen carefully for any distractions or clothing noise and re-adjust placement as needed.

Have your subject give you a “read at speed” to set the input gain on the transmitter and then the input gain on the camera input.

You are attempting to see a meter deflection of -10dB for the peak information and an average at midscale. This will allow a little bit of headroom should someone suddenly get louder.

If the gain control on the camera winds up being set towards minimum, then you should decrease the transmitter input gain and visa-versa. Ideally the gain control on the camera should wind up being set at between 12:00 and 3:00.

Finally, dress the cable in most inconspicuous manner and mount the transmitter somewhere on your subject out of frame.

Fair Use

Using copyrighted materials in a documentary film is generally allowable if the use falls under one of the following four categories. For more info, visit

Social, political, cultural critique

  • Case: Employing copyrighted material as the object of social, political, or cultural critique
  • Use: Specific copyrighted work is held up for critical analysis in the same way that a newspaper might review a new book and quote from it by way of illustration. This activity is at the very core of the fair use doctrine as a safeguard for freedom of expression. So long as the filmmaker analyzes or comments on the work itself, the means may vary, the use may be as extensive as is necessary to make the point, permitting the viewer to fully grasp the criticism or analysis.
  • Limitations: The use should not be so extensive or pervasive that it ceases to function as critique and becomes, instead, a way of satisfying the audience’s taste for the thing (or the kind of thing) critiqued. In other words, the critical use should not become a market substitute for the work (or other works like it).

Illustration of an argument or point

  • Case: Quoting copyrighted works of popular culture to illustrate an argument or point
  • Use: Here material of whatever kind is used not because it is, in itself, the object of critique but because it aptly illustrates some argument or point that a filmmaker is developing—as clips from fiction films might be used (for example) to demonstrate changing American attitudes toward race. The possibility that the quotes might entertain an audience as well as illustrate a filmmaker’s argument takes nothing away from the fair use claim. The filmmaker is not presenting the material for its original purpose but harnessing it for a new one.
  • Limitations: Documentarians should assure that the material is properly attributed, to the extent possible materials are drawn from a range of different sources, each usage is no longer than is necessary to achieve the intended effect, the material is not employed merely in order to avoid the cost or inconvenience of shooting equivalent footage.

Incidentally captured material

  • Case: Capturing copyrighted media content in the process of filming something else
  • Use: Documentarians often record copyrighted sounds and images when they are filming sequences in real-life settings. Common examples are the text of a poster on a wall, music playing on the radio, and television programming heard (perhaps seen) in the background. In a documentary, the incidentally captured material is an integral part of the ordinary reality being documented. Where a sound or image has been captured incidentally and without prevision, as part of an unstaged scene, it should be permissible to use it, to a reasonable extent, as part of the final version of the film.
  • Limitations: Documentarians should take care that particular content played or displayed in a scene being filmed was not requested or directed; incidentally captured media content included in the final version of the film is integral to the scene/action; content is properly attributed; the scene has not been included primarily to exploit the incidentally captured content in its own right; and the captured content does not constitute the scene’s primary focus or interest. In the case of music, the content does not function as a substitute for a synch track (as it might, for example, if the sequence containing the captured music were cut on its beat, or if the music were used after the filmmaker has cut away to another sequence).

Historical sequence

  • Case: Using copyrighted material in a historical sequence
  • Use: In many cases the best (or even the only) effective way to tell a particular historical story or make a historical point is to make selective use of words that were spoken during the events in questions, music that was associated with the events, or photographs and films that were taken at the time. In many cases, such material is available, on reasonable terms, under license. On occasion, however, the licensing system breaks down.
  • Limitations: Documentarians show that: the film project was not specifically designed around the material in question; the material serves a critical illustrative function, and no substitute exists with the same general characteristics; the material cannot be licensed, or the material can be licensed only on excessive terms relative to the reasonable budget for the film; the use is no more extensive than is necessary to make the point in question; the film does not rely predominantly or disproportionately on any single source for illustrative clips; the copyright owner of the material used is properly identified.

Adapted from Clearance & Copyright, 4th Edition by Michael Donaldson using guidelines established by the American University publication, Documentary Filmmakers’ Statement of Best Practices in Fair Use.

Library Resources

Killer Tracks

The College of Motion Picture Arts pays an annual fee to Universal Production Music (Killer Tracks) for the licenses to the library music they provide on their site. Contact the post-production staff if you need the login credentials.

No releases need to be signed for the use of this music, so long as you remain in accordance with the licensing agreement:


The College of Motion Picture Arts pays an annual fee to Soundsnap for the licenses to the sound effects they provide on their site at Contact the post-production staff if you need the login credentials.

You are free to:

  • remix or transform the sounds in any way
  • copy and transmit the sounds – but not resell them as they are originally downloaded from Soundsnap
  • use the sounds in any music, film, video game, website etc. whether commercial or not, without paying additional royalties or other fees beyond the initial membership cost

No releases need to be signed for the use of these sound effects, so long as you remain in accordance with the licensing agreement:

Music Rights

Unfortunately, one of the most important aspects of making a film, the music, is often neglected until the very end of post-production. This is a mistake and could come back to haunt you. Therefore, it is in your best interest to start thinking about the music in your film during pre-production.

Remember: You cannot mix your film if you do not have the music licenses.

Working with a Composer

If you want your film scored, then you will want to contact several composers during pre-production. Explain to them what your story is about and ask them to send a demo reel. If you like their work, then ask them to produce a temp track based on the ideas expressed in the script. If you like the temp track, hire them to score the film. You should have them sign the School’s Composer Contract at the moment of hiring before they begin any work.

Provide them with copies of early cuts as well as the final cut of your film. The composer will then compose the score and submit the final mix to you.

Licensed Music

If you want to use pre-existing music, then you will need to obtain the proper licenses in order to use the music in your film. You must get each license for at least:

  • Two-years
  • Film festival
  • Non-commercial
  • World rights

Getting the music rights could be as simple as sending letters to the publisher and record label, having them sign and return them. However, you may be required to complete their licensing agreements instead. If this is the case, make sure you have the Head of Production review the agreement before you sign it, to ensure we have the proper releases.

There are typically two different types of licenses that you will need to acquire:

Synchronization License

This is the right to reproduce a specific musical composition in your film. It must be obtained from the copyright owner of the composition, which is usually the publisher. You can find out who the publisher is by searching by song title at either or

Almost every song is represented by one of these two companies. Songs that are not represented by ASCAP or BMI might be found at the National Music Publishers’ Association “Songfile” website ( You will be provided with a contact at the publisher’s Business Affairs or Licensing Department.

Note that you will need to get a synchronization license from the publisher, even if you are making your own sound recording of that song. For example, if you have your actor sing or recite lyrics, whistle or hum the tune, play the song on a musical instrument, or in any way make your own sound recording of the song, you will need to get the synchronization license from the publisher.

Master Use License

This is the right to synchronize a sound recording with your visual image. You clear this right with the record label who owns the sound recording you would like to use. Check the liner notes of the recording to find out which company this is. Alternatively, you can get contact information for record labels by contacting either ASCAP or BMI (see above). You will be provided with a contact at the record label’s Business Affairs Department.

Library Music

If you want to use any of the music we have in our music library, then you are free to use any and all pieces of music in that library. FSU Film School pays an annual fee to Universal Production Music (Killer Tracks) for the licenses to that music. No releases need to be signed.

Public Domain Music

If you want to use a piece of music currently in the public domain, be careful. Know for sure that the piece of music is actually in the public domain. This can sometimes take a fair amount of research, as there is often unclear and unreliable information circulating about works that are supposedly in the public domain. All songs and musical works published in 1924 or earlier are in the public domain; anything published after 1924 should be assumed to be under copyright, unless otherwise stated. If the piece of music is in the public domain, then you can use it.

However, be aware that just because a musical composition may be in the public domain, that does not necessarily mean the sound recording of that composition is in the public domain. For example, the musical composition of Beethoven’s 9th Symphony is in the public domain, but the New York Symphony Orchestra’s recent recording of it is not. If you would like to use that particular recording in your film, you will need to get a license from the publishing company that holds the rights to that specific recording. You could, however, hire your own musicians to perform the 9th Symphony without needing to acquire a license to use the composition.

Creative Commons

Creative Commons is a community that offers an alternative copyright model for authors of creative works who would like others to be able to share, remix, sample, or build upon their work. Creative Commons provides a range of licenses that authors can attach to their creative works, giving other people greater or lesser degrees of permission to share or modify the work.

You may use Creative Commons work in your film if the original work has been licensed with one of the following license types, so long as you provide attribution in your film’s end credits:

Some of the Creative Commons licenses, however, do not play nicely with how we make movies. If you see licenses on works that include either of the following terms, you will most likely not be permitted to use those works:

  • NoDerivs. This license does not permit derivative works and requires that the original work is passed along unchanged and in whole, which is unlikely to happen in the context of our films.
  • ShareAlike. This license requires you to also license your work with a ShareAlike license. However, since the College owns the copyright on all student films, students are not permitted to license their films with a Creative Commons license, which makes it impossible for you to honor the original Creative Commons license.

Note, however, that many authors who’ve opted for a NoDerivs or ShareAlike license may be open to giving you permission to use their work if you contact them directly. If they are willing, you’ll need to follow the College’s usual process of acquiring a licensing agreement for a copyrighted work.