- Equipment and Facilities
- Releases and Licenses
- Work Limits
- Sound Effects and Music
- Delivery Requirements
- Minimum and Maximum Lengths
- Technical Specifications
- For-Profit and Non-Profit
In addition to managing the mentoring program, FVASA sells and handles the developing of film at a discount for first-year students. It also performs many other functions, including running end-of-semester screenings. Students are encouraged to volunteer for this important part of SOFA.
Students are strongly encouraged to secure general liability insurance for off-campus locations. While RIT will provide this at no cost to the student, it is the student’s responsibility to request the coverage through a certificate of insurance. Not doing so could expose the student to personal liability for bodily injury or property damage to a third party.
Students are also strongly encouraged to secure personal property insurance to protect RIT and student owned equipment, since students are liable for loss and damage to RIT equipment from the moment it is checked out until it is checked back in.
SOFA can provide virtually everything students need to make high quality shorts and conduct certain types of research. Students borrow equipment and facilities through the A-Level Cage. The level of access is based on a student’s academic plan, year level, course completion, course enrollment, project approval, and resource availability. Unless prohibited by an instructor, students may also use their own equipment or rent from outside vendors. A great deal of important and useful information students must know about equipment, facilities, rules, and procedures can be found in the Facilities Guide on the CAD Checkout webpage. CAD Checkout includes additional important information, such as a student’s status with the Cage. If you are unable to log in, please contact the Cage staff.
Releases and licenses are permissions. Releases should be acquired for people (cast) and real property (locations). Licenses should be acquired for intellectual property (such as music). Signed copies should be kept by students indefinitely in case they are needed in the future.
Students may work no more than 12 hours per day (from call to taillights, including company moves) with no more than a half-hour travel each way to and from location (measured from RIT when shooting locally) and no more than one hour for a meal. Any additional travel or meal time must be deducted from the 12-hour work day.
Please note that “lunch” on a 12-hour production day is six hours after call time, regardless of when that might be.
Students must also have at least an 8-hour turnaround between production days (from taillights to call) with no more than a half-hour travel from and to location. Any additional travel must be added to the turnaround.
This policy reflects important safety concerns and students held accountable for infractions, depending on severity and frequency, are subject to punishments ranging from cage docking to school suspension.
The Cage server (smb://CAD-files.rit.edu/cage/sfx) has licensed sound effects and music that can be legally used without restriction in SOFA shorts as well as a growing collection of sound effects from the Advanced Sound class. Either can be used as synchronous sound in SOFA shorts but not as standalone sound or sound in non-SOFA shorts. You must be on the RIT network or connected to it by VPN to access the Cage server.
Free or affordable sound effects and music are also available from a variety of online sources. However, some of those do not have legal content, so caution should be exercised. Suggested sites include:
Delivery requirements, what professionals need to meet to receive payment and SOFA students need to meet to screen their films and pass their classes, should be considered even before starting production. Student shorts must meet all of the following criteria prior to submission to the FVASA Screenings Committee:
The final version of all student shorts must only contain original material, material in the public domain, or copyrighted material used with written permission or under accepted standards of fair use and properly credited in the end titles. Shorts with unauthorized content may not be screened or accepted for completion of degrees!
Minimum and Maximum Lengths
SOFA sets a minimum length for animated thesis shorts and a maximum length for all other types of shorts. Individual instructors or thesis advisers can set higher minimums or lower maximums. However, lower minimums or higher maximums are only permitted with administrative chair approval.
Shorts approved outside of the lengths below might be disqualified from the Honors Show. Shorts outside the lengths below without prior approval might be barred from the end-of-semester screenings, which could result in course failure.
All lengths are inclusive of credits:
- First-year: 10:00 maximum
- Workshop: 20:00 maximum
- BFA thesis: 2:30 minimum, 26:00 maximum
- Thesis-in-progress (narrative and experimental Film): 30:00 maximum
- Thesis-in-progress (documentary Film): 35:00 maximum
- MFA thesis: 2:30 minimum, 40:00 maximum
MFA students are strongly encouraged to work within the limits set for BFA students.
Picture and sound must be technically acceptable. Students should consult the technical specifications each semester.
Any spoken or written words in a language other than English that an audience is expected to understand must be subtitled. For sign language and closed captioning guidelines please refer to the Accessibility section.
Students must include an animated or still frame SOFA production credit at the head of the final version of SOFA shorts. The approved versions of the production credit may not be altered in any way nor used for any work produced outside of SOFA without permission of the administrative chair. However, if desired, music or sound effects appropriate for a short may be played under the still credit. All approved versions of the SOFA production credit can be downloaded from the screenings signup page on SOFAtube (log in for access). Students requiring a production credit with specifications not provided above may request a custom version of the still credit.
All cast and crew should be properly credited in the head or end titles. Individuals that leave a production for creative or other differences are generally still entitled to credit for work provided.
Regardless of how they are acquired, all sound effects and music should be properly credited in the titles. Students using material from the RIT_EFX_Sluberski _Advanced Sound Class folder on the Cage server must include the following in their end credits:
Sound Effects Courtesy of the
RIT Advanced Sound Class
Furthermore, the following must be included immediately preceding the copyright notice at the end of non-thesis shorts:
Student produced at the
School of Film and Animation,
Rochester Institute of Technology
Thesis shorts must, instead, include the following immediately preceding the copyright notice:
Submitted in partial fulfillment of the
requirements for the [BFA or MFA] degree in the
School of Film and Animation,
Rochester Institute of Technology
The final end title credit (after the student produced notice) on all shorts should read as follows:
Copyright [year of completion] [student’s legal name]
Please ensure there is at least one frame of black after the copyright notice.
SOFA has a great tradition—and requirement. Excluding first-year undergraduate shorts, all final production class shorts must be shown at the appropriate end-of-semester Fall Screenings or Spring Screenings. A few first-year undergraduate shorts from each production class are also chosen for screening by the class’s instructor. After the Spring Screenings the faculty select some of the best shorts in a variety of categories from both end-of-semester screenings for inclusion in the Honors Show, which is screened publicly the following fall and distributed on DVD. Additional important information related to screening thesis projects can be found beginning here in the Thesis section.
The end-of-semester screenings are in lieu of finals for most SOFA courses. As such, SOFA students are expected to attend all possible screenings. Students who do not sign up to to screen their short or are not present when their short should have screened (shorts will not screen if the student is not present) are subject to course failure! Accordingly, students should arrive at the start of screenings, but no less than two hours before their short is scheduled to screen—even if that time is scheduled as a meal break. Details of this and other ever-evolving screenings policies and procedures students must know can be found in the Screenings Policy.
Given the risk of course failure and delayed graduation, students are expected to take precautions. Students should back up their work all through the process, and a master or work-in-progress master should be created and viewed in its entirety no less than one day before the deadline to ensure there is an uncorrupted file available for submission. Files must be uploaded from the RIT network or while connected to it by a high speed VPN connection and, to allow for unexpected problems, should be started no less than an hour before the deadline.
FVASA manages the end-of-semester screenings and provides detailed information on the screenings sign-up process, which cannot start until after a short is fully completed. Students begin by filling out the online SOFAtube Screenings Sign-up wizard, which should become available at 12:01 a.m. on the Monday (midnight Sunday) of the last week of classes. Students then upload the screening version of their project. Thesis students may also reserve a screening time online on a first-come-first-serve basis but only for the final version of their thesis (not their thesis-in-progress). Other students will receive a receipt regardless of when they upload online, which must be brought to the FVASA registration table in the SOFA lobby between 9:00 a.m. and 12:00 noon on the last Friday of classes (please plan accordingly). At that time non-thesis students may request a specific screening time on a first-come-first-serve basis.
Craft thesis presentations should ideally be scheduled immediately after all shorts included in a given presentation are screened or, if before, screened during a different time block. Craft thesis presentations must be submitted to the FVASA Screenings Committee no less than 24 hours prior to their scheduled screening time.
End-of-semester screenings begin on the Saturday of the last week of classes. Screenings in the fall can last up to four days or more. Screenings in the spring may last up to six days. Students needing to screen should not commit to advance travel plans that begin prior to the end of screenings.
In addition to hosting the production credits and end-of-semester screenings sign-up, all screened shorts are stored on SOFAtube. SOFAtube files can be updated up to three months after a short is screened. However, Honors Show selections must be updated by July 1st in order to be included in the Honors Show. Updating can be done through the motion picture science program chair.
Unlike many schools, SOFA allows its students to own the copyright to their shorts. However, as a condition of granting copyright, SOFA requires that students leave the RIT production credit in place at the head of their shorts for all uses in perpetuity and that they grant RIT the non-exclusive right, but not obligation, to use them for educational and promotional purposes, including the options of including them in the Honors Show, entering them in festivals on behalf of the student, and making them available worldwide through SOFAtube one year after their completion. Students may request a one-year delay in worldwide SOFAtube access if it conflicts with festival or other short term distribution requirements.
Please note that exercises made for showing in a class fall under a more lenient standard of fair use than shorts made for showing outside of class. Hence, what is permissible to make for a class exercise does not always reflect what can be shown at the end-of-semester screenings or posted on the Internet. SOFA students must comply with United States copyright laws and practices at all times and, therefore, should not post any class exercises online that might violate copyright law.
Since students own the copyright of their work, they can potentially license shorts for personal profit after it is completed. However, no licenses, whether for-profit commercial or non-profit festival, may interfere with RIT’s rights as detailed above without administrative chair approval. More importantly, since RIT is a non-profit institution, students may not use RIT resources (equipment or facilities) to produce work if they license rights to a for-profit company before completion.
While the use of RIT resources to benefit for-profit, commercial clients is also prohibited, commercial products can generally be used in shorts and mock commercials—as long as the products are not defamed. So for example, students could use Doritos in a short or make a mock commercial for Doritos. But the results could not be submitted to a contest where the work might actually be used to promote Doritos without administrative chair approval.
Community service projects for non-profits, on the other hand, can be produced with RIT resources. However, the production must be part of a credit-bearing course (including an independent study or internship). The administrative chair must approve student use of RIT resources for non-profit productions without academic credit whether or not a student has access to equipment for other classes.