Film scoring is an exciting way to explore composing, arranging, recording and editing music or sound effects with your students and there are a variety of software programs suitable for the job.  GarageBand, Acid Music Studio (or Acid Pro), Mixcraft, Sonar Home Studio, Sibelius, Finale all allow you to import video and synchronise sound to visuals.

Before you get started with film scoring however, you’ll need some resources.  In this post, we’ll explore some if the film footage (video) that is available for free.

First, A Word on Copyright

When you’re looking for film footage to use in the classroom, it’s a good idea to seek public domain material or material that has been designated a Creative Commons license.  If you’re not yet familiar with Creative Commons, it’s an organisation that encourages sharing and collaboration of creative work.  Creative Commons (CC), whose byline is “Share, Remix, Reuse – Legally” provides free licenses and other legal tools to mark creative work with the freedom the creator wants it to carry, so others can share, remix or use their work commercially (or any combination thereof).

By using material with a CC license, you’re able to do much more with end-product of your students’ work.  You can upload their film scoring projects to the school website (or other websites), or burn them to DVD to take home to share with family.  Conversely, using copyrighted material means that you can only use it within the four walls of your classroom.

For more information about Creative Commons, visit their website.  For information about copyright for schools in Australia, visit Smartcopying.

So, where are the best places to download suitable videos?  Over the last few months, I’ve been gathering links to some of the most useful sites.  Here are some of my favourites:

1. The Moving Image Archive

This is the moving images section of www.archive.org: a site with thousands of copyright-free films.  Within this site there are “collections” of videos.  Check out the following:

2. The Open Video Project

The Open Video Project site has an excellent search engine: you can narrow your search to films of a specific duration (less than one minute or 1-2 minutes).  You can also search for silent films which are very useful for film scoring projects.

3. Open Source VideosBig Buck Bunny

Big Buck Bunny and The Elephant’s Dream are both open source code movies. All music and video files from these movies are available for others to download, remix or re-score.

4. The Whitehouse

The Obama administration has kindly assigned a Creative Commons license to all material on the Whitehouse website, which means that you’re free to download pictures, video and text and use it for your own purposes as long as you attribute the source of the material.

5. Movie Trailers

Movie trailers are also ideal to use for film scoring projects as long as you don’t plan to take the students’ work outside the classroom.  They are already short, which saves you editing the footage to a suitable length ahead of class time.  Try:

6. Brick Films

Brick films are stop-motion animation films using Lego blocks and Lego characters. There’s a strong brick film community and some great examples can be seen in this round-up of the Top 10 Lego Movie Tributes on Youtube.

There’s quite a large collection of Creative Commons Licensed brick films on the archive.org website and music teacher Sarah Johnston has shortlisted her favourites for use by students in GarageBand film scoring projects in this list.

And one last small piece of advice: it’s a good idea to download any potential videos, ahead of time, on your own.  Not all of the material on these websites is suitable for students.