Water & Messy Items

Water effects on the stages

Water must not be allowed to pool on the stage floor, or seep under set pieces or floor covers. If hoses or other connections for water lines are used on stage, lines and connections must be continually monitored for leaks, which must be repaired immediately.

There must always be an approved plan in place to immediately drain off water from a water effect. For rain effects, a gutter may be used to collect water in a small area, but for larger effects, a pool must be used or built from thick plastic and 2×4’s to form a raised edge to trap the water inside. A plan must be made and approved for removal of the water from these pools, and water that will inevitably be tracked around the stage by wet feet and equipment. A pool or other vessel of water may never be left overnight. The Stage Supervisor will monitor water effects. At any time the Stage Supervisor or Set Operations Manager may shut down the production to ensure the safety of crew, equipment and facilities.

Dirt, Sand, Paint, or other messy items

When a production intends to use loose material such as dirt, or wet material such as paint, the student production designer will be required to show preparation for protection of the area and removal of the materials before receiving approval. Dirt contains moisture, so a moisture barrier must be put on the floor, or the dirt must otherwise be kept from coming in contact with the stage floor. As dirt, peanut shells, paint, and other messy materials can be tracked into other areas of the building, plans must be made to clean feet and to prevent such tracking. Mats or drop cloths, and small brushes or brooms must be supplied so crew and cast can clean their feet before exiting the stage or work area.

Stage-Adjacent Areas

The sound-lock area between the sound stages and its storage room, the loading dock and wood shop are considered stage-adjacent areas, and fall under the following policies:

  • The sound-lock area between the two stage loading doors, its storage room, the loading dock, and wood shop are not storage areas and must not be used for storage of any kind.
  • The sound-lock storage room is for administrative use only.
  • The loading dock and wood shop may be used for spillover construction only upon receiving permission from the Stage Supervisor. Clear and safe access for anyone using the building or loading dock must always be available. Nothing may ever be left in these areas for more than two hours (this would be considered storage).
  • These areas may not be painted in any way, whether intentionally or accidentally. If it is necessary to use these areas to paint scenery, drop cloths or other protection must be used, and all precautions taken to assure that no paint will be left on any surface in these areas.
  • No building scraps, materials, or sawdust may be left overnight. These areas must be completely cleaned of all building materials, scraps, and scenery before 8:00 am each day, and thoroughly cleaned and swept at the end of the designated construction period.

Smoke, Flame & Explosives

Smoke Effects

Only controlled smoke emitters – such as electrical fog machines, haze machines, dry-ice systems, cigarettes, cigars and pipes – may be used on the stages. Flash paper/smoke-powder systems, smoke bombs, fireworks, and homemade, fire-based smoke are not permitted under any circumstances. If using smoke, care must be taken for the safety and comfort of crew and performers, the smoke must be prevented from escaping into other portions of the building.

If the intent is to make a thick smoke or fog, the stage supervisor must be informed so false fire alarms may be avoided. Triggering a fire alarm may result in a fine being imposed on the College, which will in turn impose a fine on the student production designer.

Open Flame

All flame use must be discussed at the original stage reservation meeting and approved by the Stage Supervisor. Only certain kinds of flame may be used on stage. Candles, flame bars (using propane), oil lamps, and other small gas-based fires may be approved as long as proper precautions are taken.

Any flame near the floor requires a substantial barrier, such as asbestos or concrete, to keep the flame from scorching or burning the floor. If the fire is to be near set pieces, the set must be treated with a commercial flameproof solution or paint designed for the kind of material the set is built from. A flame test must be conducted after the material has been treated to ensure the set piece is truly fire resistant.

The fire must be at least six feet from any soft goods (curtains, bedspreads, etc.).

Burning a log or a piece of furniture is not allowed on the College stages, but burning small items such as paper or money, or another small, quickly consumed prop, may be acceptable upon approval from the Stage Supervisor. In these cases, the fire should be done over a container of water if possible. Otherwise, the floor must be protected, and a container (such as a metal can) present to contain the fire as it burns out.

Whenever a fire is burning a dedicated crewmember must be standing by with a charged fire extinguisher. All fires should be extinguished or turned off when not needed for shooting or rehearsal. This will result in fewer accidents and less danger to the crew. Anything that has been burning may flare up in the presence of oxygen; therefore, do not place seemingly extinguished fires out of sight or near flammable items.

The fire extinguishers on the sound stages are for emergencies. The student production designer must provide a safety fire extinguisher for fire FX and it must be of the type approved for such FX (effects). The Stage Supervisor will approve the type of extinguisher needed.


Please reference the Weapons Policy. Only approved explosives or explosive forces (such as squibs or air cannons) may be used on the sound stage after discussion with the Stage Supervisor. FSU Police must be notified, and only a licensed operator may deploy the explosive device. The area surrounding the direction in which the explosive force will be deployed must be cleared of any obstruction, and there must be sufficient distance from any equipment or materials to avoid damage to the stage. People in the vicinity must wear eye and ear protection, and care must be taken to avoid damage to structures, set pieces, and people. The student production designer is solely responsible for any damage that may occur due to the use of explosives.

Vehicles on the Stages

Vehicles are allowed on the sound stage only upon approval by the Stage Supervisor. The facility must be protected from ignition of their flammable materials, and from dripping oil and grease. In order to safely use a motor vehicle on a stage, the following policies are to be followed explicitly:

  • Prior to moving the vehicle onto the stage, the fuel tank must be professionally removed, or completely filled. Empty tanks have dangerous levels of easily ignitable fumes.
  • The battery must be removed from the vehicle. The vehicle will have to be pushed onto the stage, without power steering or brakes. The battery may not be replaced until the vehicle is safely outside the building.
  • A faculty or staff member must be present to supervise when the vehicle is moved into and removed from the stage. The production must schedule this at a time when a faculty or staff member can be present.
  • Protective material – such as a tarp or old foam-core, NOT solids or sound blankets – must be placed under the engine, transmission, and differential to catch any fluid.
  • Open flames are prohibited from the stage while a vehicle is present.
  • Facilitation of dash lights and windshield wipers must be worked out in advance of the use of a vehicle onstage.

Rigging on the Stages

Rigging is dangerous and requires specific knowledge and skills. Anything to be rigged from the pods, grid, catwalks, or otherwise must be discussed with and approved by the Stage Supervisor, who may also refer you to the Set Operations Manager for further approval. The Stage Supervisor or the Set Operations Manager will also inspect and give final approval of any rigging before it may be used as part of production.

Stage Curtains, Cyclorama, and Green Screen

The black curtains, the cyclorama, and the large green screen are equipment and must be requested. The curtains and cyclorama are for stage use only and may not be used on location. Both the VFX Department and cinematography instructor must be consulted and sign off on any use of the green screen.

If approved for use, the curtains and/or cyclorama will be checked out to the production by the Stage Supervisor, and the large green screen by the ER staff. These items will be inspected on check-out and again on check-in.

The Stage Supervisor will teach the students proper care, hanging technique and folding of the curtains and cyclorama, and will also check for proper adherence to these guidelines.

Pod Use on the Stages

Use of the pods must be requested and approved at the initial meeting with the Stage Supervisor. If approved, the following protocols must be observed:

  • Proper hardware must be used for the installation of grip and lighting equipment. All cables and gels must be safely and solidly affixed prior to raising a pod.
  • Nobody may stand under a moving pod.
  • If the operator cannot see the pod or something it might hit, another student must stand where they can see the pod, the possible obstruction, and the operator, in order to assist and guide the operator.
  • The operator must let everyone on stage know of pod movements by speaking loudly enough to be heard by all on the stage, for example: “Pod #1 coming down!”
  • The operator or assisting student must make sure the cables are feeding in or out of the baskets properly, and that the winch cables are moving smoothly into the winch drum groove. If there is any suspicion that a pod may not be moving in a level fashion, or is laboring the motor as it moves, the operator must stop the pod immediately and summon the stage supervisor or set operations manager.
  • The pods are designed to stop 3 feet from the floor and 6 feet from the grid (ceiling). If a pod moves beyond these stops, notify the Stage Supervisor immediately.

Use of the pods for purposes other than hanging grip and lighting equipment requires approval of the Stage Supervisor at the initial stage reservation.

Load-In & Load-Out

Load-in and set-up are the processes of a production moving onto the reserved sound stage. Strike and load-out are defined as the tear down and removal of all set pieces and other items belonging to a production.


  • A load-in date is set as part of the stage reservation, and the load-in date and time must be strictly followed.
  • Only approved sets, effects, equipment, and procedures may be loaded in.
  • The Stage Supervisor will check the stages to ascertain that all procedures and policies have been followed, and that all items are being set up and used as per the approved plan. Any infractions will be noted and presented to the student producer. In some cases, due to safety or damage concerns, the Stage Supervisor or the Set Operations Manager may stop the production until these concerns have been appropriately addressed. Violations in this or any sound stage policy will be treated as an “unprofessional act” and penalties assessed according to the College’s Professionalism Policy.

Strike and Load-Out

  • Both strike and load-out must occur during the time allotted in the original stage reservation meeting, except as noted in the policy for holding sets for dailies.
  • During strike and load-out the floor must be painted back to black, and the entire reserved space returned to a cleaned and normal state.
  • The sound-lock, exits, loading dock and other adjacent areas must continue to be kept clear.
  • Stock sets and existing scenery must be returned to the designated corral, and built scenery must be stored according to the policy for holding sets for dailies.
  • All other items, including equipment, props, scenery, trash, and other items must be removed from the College facility.
  • The Stage Supervisor will check for proper adherence to these rules and will note any infractions to the student producer.

Set Design

In order to accommodate the maximum variety of sets with the least damage to the stages and related equipment, and in order to allow for the storage of sets while waiting for dailies, the following set design policies must be followed:

  • The Stage Supervisor must approve all set construction. Details of said construction, including a set plan showing the set’s intended position on the stage, must be provided to the Stage Supervisor before construction can begin.
  • The College does not provide any building materials or tools, including power or hand tools. Students needing to construct a set must provide their own tools and materials.
  • Sets must be designed and drawn out in plan and elevation form with all dimensions.
  • Set plans must include all bracing and support to safely hold vertical and suspended units.
  • A list of intended building materials must accompany the designs. This includes lumber, metal, and plastics, as well as coatings and textures. Certain organic or potentially toxic materials may be forbidden.
  • If building on College property, a construction schedule and list of who will be building must accompany the plans. The list of personnel must include each person’s experience and tool skills.
  • Sets must be made of units no larger than the area 11’8”H x 8’W x 2’D.
  • The total of all units must be able to be stored in an area 11’8”H x 8’W x 8’D for Stage A, 11’8”H x 4’W x 8’D for Stage B. Larger items may not be stored on stage. It is the student’s responsibility to acquire storage for such pieces.
  • Sets may be secured to catwalks, pods, grids, or stage walls only by permission from the stage supervisor.
  • Sets may be screwed to the stage floor.
  • If the floor is to be painted, it must be done with flat un-textured latex paint. Complicated paint schemes should be painted on masonite or other floor coverings.
  • Plans for the removal and disposal of the set must be established before stage use will be approved. The student may have to pay a fee for dumpster use and disposal.

College-Owned Set Pieces

There are three types of College-owned set pieces:

  • Existing scenery are set segments, which upon approval by the Stage Supervisor, may be modified to suit the needs of the student production
  • Stock sets are complete sets built for use in classes and workshops. These sets are available for checkout only when they are not in use for classes and may not be modified.
  • Stock pieces are separate segments of the stock sets, which may be used in conjunction with existing scenery or newly built pieces. This must be discussed, and approval secured, at the initial meeting with the Stage Supervisor.

Supporting documentation requesting use of any or all of these items must be presented to the Stage Supervisor at the initial meeting.

Use of existing scenery, stock sets, and stock pieces is not guaranteed to any production. The Stage Supervisor will monitor the proper use and care of these items.

Building on the Stage

The student production designer must present supporting documentation, including set drawings, material and crew lists, to the Stage Supervisor at the initial meeting. Drawings may need multiple revisions before approval is granted. Once approval is secured, the production will be assigned dates for construction, load-in and strike.

The Stage Supervisor, the Set Operations Manager and ER employees will periodically check the stage for cleanliness and safety. All building materials and tools must be removed from the stage at wrap.

Handing Off Sets

In the instance where a set is built for one production but is desired for use by another, the set may remain on the stage only until the dailies from the first production have been viewed. The student production designers from both productions must sign a Hand-Off Agreement, and the new production must go through the procedure for requesting a stage for a built set. A new form must be filled out, but copies of the original set drawings may be attached, and there would be no need for a building schedule or crew list.

If the second production needs the set before or immediately after dailies screening of the first production, the set may remain in its corral on stage until the second production starts its setup. When the second production is not within the time the set is scheduled to remain on stage, the student producer and production designer from the second production must acquire an offsite storage space, and remove all items from the College facility to that space. The College does not provide, or in any way take responsibility for, off-site storage.

After the hand-off, the second production becomes the party responsible for the set and the stages.

Holding Sets for Dailies

Any set constructed for use on the stages must conform to the basic set design policy. At wrap and strike, the set must be broken down into smaller units conforming to the 11’8” x 8’ x 2’ dimension requirement. These may then be stored on the stage in a predetermined area selected by the stage supervisor. Pieces that do not fit into the predetermined area must be removed and stored at an off-site location acquired by the student production designer. Only one set can be stored on each stage. Immediately after dailies, an unneeded set must be disposed of, passed to another student production (see policy for hand-off of sets), or moved to off-site storage at a facility acquired by the student production designer. The College will not store, or be responsible for storage of, any items that do not fit into the allotted storage space.

If the supervising faculty determines that re-shoots are required, the Stage Supervisor and supervising faculty will together determine how much and what pieces of the set will be needed for re-shoots. All other pieces must then be removed from the College facility as usual. On-site storage of the required pieces will be arranged, and the student production designer must move the items to that location. After re-shoots the pieces may again be stored on stage until dailies have been screened. It will continue to be the responsibility of the student production designer to move and set-up these pieces until re-shoots are deemed finished and the items are permanently removed from the College. Only removal or hand-off to another production will resolve the student’s responsibility for these set pieces.

Stage Reservation

Stages are reserved primarily for use during College classes and workshops. When the stages are not in use for course work, then students may reserve them for productions according to the Sound Stage Use Policy. Other than auditions, students are not allowed to shoot in any other College-owned spaces other than the shooting stages.


During any given semester there will be multiple productions going on across both MFA and BFA programs. Reservation priority of the sound stages is in the following order:

  1. College classes, workshops, events
  2. MFA Production (in priority order of Thesis, D2, D1)
  3. BFA Productions (in priority order of Thesis, F3, F2, F1)

The stages may not be reserved for weekend projects or documentaries. Special projects approved by the Associate Dean may reserve the stages by permission only and may not interfere with the curriculum of the College.

Requesting Use of the Stage

  1. Check with the Head of Production about the availability of the stage.
  2. Meet with Stage Supervisor to get approval of your plan.
    • No set:
      • Meet with Stage Supervisor
      • Read pertinent policies and sign off on having done so
      • Receive schedule for check-out, load-in/set up, load- out/strike, and check-in
      • Attend check-out meeting with Stage Supervisor
    • Stock set:
      • Meet with Stage Supervisor
      • Read pertinent policies and sign off on having done so
      • Receive schedule for check-out, load-in/set up, load-out/strike, and check-in
      • Attend check-out meeting with Stage Supervisor
      • Check out corral to gain access to stock set pieces
      • Walk through set up of stock set pieces
    • Built set:
      • Meet with Stage Supervisor; read pertinent policies and sign off on having done so
      • Receive schedule for check-out, construction/building period
      • Load-in/set up, load-out/strike, and check-in
      • Attend check-out meeting with Stage Supervisor
      • Check out any existing scenery or set pieces
      • Walk through set up of any stock set pieces
  3. Get Location Agreement and Location Shooting Plan Agreement signed by Head of Production.

Sound Stage Policies

Stages are for use by College faculty, staff, and students and are intended solely for College classes and projects. Any other use is prohibited unless approved by the Associate Dean.

All sound stage use begins with the Sound Stage Reservation Form. The completed and signed reservation form becomes the basis for an agreement between the student production designer and the College as to how the stage and its equipment will be used. The student brings the completed form and, depending on the needs of the production, supporting documentation to the Stage Supervisor for approval. The sound stage is not reserved until the Stage Supervisor has approved and signed off on the reservation form.

Upon approval, the production is assigned use of the sound stage for specific dates, which may not be altered or exceeded without written permission of the Stage Supervisor. On the equipment check-out date, immediately prior to the reserved dates, the student Production Designer and the Stage Supervisor will inspect and “check-out” the sound stage. If multiple productions will use the sound stage prior to the next equipment check-out date, all student Production Designers will attend the sound stage check-out, and all are equally responsible for adherence to the sound stage use policies.

In general:

  • No changes may be made to the physical stage except by addition of approved scenic elements and standard rigging of equipment. The wood floor may be painted with a non-textured flat latex paint but must be painted back to its original flat black immediately after wrap and strike.
  • Only approved equipment may be used on the stage (see policies for vehicles, fire, water, and effects).
  • Water or other liquid may not be placed on the floor, and any spilled liquid must be cleaned immediately.
  • Sets, equipment, or other obstacles may not block catwalks, grid ladders, and exits.
  • Only standard lights and grip equipment may be rigged to the pods or grid. Other items may be used upon approval from the stage supervisor.
  • The student Production Designer is responsible for ensuring that no paint is spilled or dripped onto any surface, including the loading dock. Drop cloths must be used, and any drips immediately cleaned.
  • The scenery and sets stored on the stages are for use only upon permission. Stored scenery may not be moved without approval from the Stage Supervisor.
  • Students assigned the use of a sound stage must clean up after themselves at the end of each day. Food and related garbage must be disposed of properly. College trash containers may not be overfilled.