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Elevator/lift enthusiast, or commonly known as elevator/lift filmer, is a person who has an interest in elevators and other forms of vertical transportations. They usually show their enthusiasm by taking photos or videos of elevators and uploads them to the internet to share their contents to other people having the same interest, reviewing elevators, etc.
In many cases, people who becomes an elevator enthusiast has a background of having interest of elevators since their childhood. The reasons behind it varies, from those who were amused by the movement of certain elevator components (such as doors, cab, etc.), playing with the elevator buttons, interested by certain sounds that are produced by the elevators, to simply consider them to be very unique. There have also been cases where they were originally afraid of elevators when they were young and later gained interests on them when they grew up. Some others may not have such background; they might simply becoming an elevator enthusiast just for fun. Due to daily routine activities, some elevator enthusiasts consider their activity of taking photos or videos of elevators to be a spare time activities, as they are afraid that elevator-related activities might be affecting their life.
An elevator enthusiast can make friends with another elevator enthusiast, usually on the internet by discovering or watching their elevator videos on the internet (mostly on YouTube). As more friends are made and the more they interact with each others, these people forms a group on the internet called "elevator community", where they can share their thoughts of elevators that they've seen or filmed. This unique community contains people who shares the same interests from around the world, regardless of their age, gender and origin. In some cases, an elevator enthusiast may create a local elevator community, which consists of other elevator enthusiasts living in the same city/town or country. They also creates elevator community in the form of chat groups.
Unlike railway and bus enthusiats, the number of elevator enthusiasts is much lower, and their recognition is often very low due to the very small number of people in the community. However, there have been cases where the presence of an elevator enthusiast has been recognized by the media and even major elevator companies.
Typically, an elevator enthusiast takes a video of an elevator (commonly referred to as "elevator filming") using a videotaping device and do a detailed look of the elevator such as the brand of the elevator, interior cab, fixtures, etc. Some people in the elevator community are interested in elevator fixtures such as the buttons and how they sound when they are pressed, and how the floor numbers and directional arrows on the floor indicators are displayed. Others simply don't even pay attention with all these details and simply films it just for fun. Once they have recorded videos of an elevator, they will then upload those videos to video-sharing sites such as YouTube or Dailymotion. The purpose of uploading these contents is to share them to other people on the internet having the same interest or enthusiasm. Most of them are active in YouTube, where they upload elevator videos and shares them to other members of the community. Nowadays, a number of elevator enthusiast groups have also been created on social medias such as Facebook and Google Plus, as well as chat groups. Some of them also posts their elevator photos onto Instragram, Flickr and other sites such as blogs.
In most cases, people film elevators by their own. An elevator enthusiast may also be accompanied by another elevator enthusiast while filming elevators, which is usually done by appointments. In some cases, one person may invites more than one person to film elevators together, this is usually referred to as "elevator meetups". These meetups usually consists up to three people, but there have been few cases where there are a total of four people joining the meetup. An elevator enthusiast may film elevators in multiple places in a single day.
Besides filming elevators, there are also some elevator enthusiasts who likes collecting elevator parts, especially those living in the United States. Dieselducy, an elevator enthusiast from Roanoke, VA, United States, is well known for collecting and preserving elevator parts of any ages. He has built a so-called elevator museum in his bedroom of his house where he displays his elevator parts collection, and has been visited by other elevator enthusiasts in the United States.
In addition, some people in the elevator community have other similar activities or interests besides elevators, like bus spotting, railfanning, urbex, etc., and some of them even combines these activities with elevator filming. There have been cases too where a few numbers of elevator enthusiast have been involved in fanbase or fandom of various animated or live action television series.
Taking videos of elevators
Perhaps the most popular activity in the elevator community is, taking videos of elevators, commonly known as "elevator filming". There are many methods of taking videos of elevators. The most common method in the elevator community is to go up and down from the bottom or top floor or vice versa, thus making a complete round trip. Some people also make multiple round trips for making longer videos, while others simply go up or down in one way, resulting a very short video. This is either because the person does not have sufficient time to film elevators longer, or having technical issues such as battery running out, insufficient memory space, etc. Some elevator enthusiasts may also film elevators and escalators in the same video.
The typical methods or styles of taking elevator videos are listed below:
- Starts the video outside the elevators, either on the main/ground floor or an intermediate floor, depending on the situation. After the video begins, the person usually takes a quick look of the elevator's exterior, or even nearby areas such as an atrium or a hallway.
- Some people like dieselducy likes to show a certain object at the very beginning of the video which makes it "iconic" to their videos. This is called "opening signature".
- Press the landing call button, then pans the camera through the floor indicator or hall lanters (if available).
- Entering the elevator and press a floor button, usually the top or bottom-most floor, depending on the elevator's direction.
- Press the door close button after pressing a floor button, or pressing the door close button first then the floor button. In some cases where there is no door close button, the person may simply wait until the doors starts to close or pressing a floor button multiple times to make the doors close (this trick may sometimes work in some elevators, such as older Otis).
- Shots the elevator floor indicator on the way up or down.
- Do a cab view by slowly moving the camera around the elevator cab to get a detailed look of the interior.
- Take a still video of the push buttons inside until the button goes off.
- Puts the camera on the cab floor in front of the door to shot the elevator's leveling, especially on older elevators. In some cases, they can also do this outside the elevator.
- In scenic/glass elevators, a person shots the view outside first and then the elevator fixtures, or vice versa.
- In an elevator with wheelchair panel that has an elevator floor indicator (which commonly found in Japan), the person may shot them to show this feature.
- Before stopping the video, the person may shot the doors closing outside. Some people don't do this as this is actually optional.
There are also some elevator enthusiasts who have created their own method/style of elevator filming. mailerdiablo is a good example of having his very own style of elevator filming where he always standing in the corner of the elevator while filming (from the beginning until the end) and doesn't show his hands everytime he pushes a button.
Also, there are a couple of people who always film elevators alone, without anyone around them. This is due to privacy reason where they do not want other people's face to get caught on their camera, especially when those people are not very comfortable to be on camera.
Uploading videos of elevators
Most people uploads their elevator videos onto YouTube, where a large number of elevator enthusiasts are usually actives in there. A small numbers of people also uploads their videos to Dailymotion or even Instagram. Usually, most people would first compress and also edit their videos first before uploading, since uploading uncompressed videos would take a very long time to upload. However, some others would simply upload their raw unedited videos directly, especially those who use smartphones.
Some people also uploads a video containing multiple elevator videos which were taken in a single place or various places. These videos have created a unique trend over the past few years in the YouTube elevator community called "Elevator/lift tour", which is a series of videos containing multiple videos of various elevators that were shots in a single place or various places, often accompanied with a map of the place and details of the elevators which are featured on those videos. These elevator tour videos are often narrated by the uploader themselves to describes the elevators and a bit of the places featured in the video.
These are the following devices that are used by elevator enthusiasts to film elevators.
- See also: Mobile phone camera
Smartphones nowadays are the most common devices used by many elevator enthusiasts to film elevators. Other than handy, smartphones allows them to upload their elevator videos directly to YouTube. These devices are now very popular for many elevator enthusiasts in Asia, especially those living in Japan, South Korea, Indonesia and Thailand. And recently, there have been many newer smartphones that support Ultra HD video quality. The most common smartphone brands that are used by elevator enthusiasts are Samsung and iPhone. Other brands such as Xiaomi are also used.
Some elevator enthusiasts also installed third-party "recycle bin" applications on their device which can restore their elevator videos back if they got accidentally deleted. These apps have been known in the community as a "life saving tool" in case their videos gets deleted by security guards.
Digital cameras and camcorders
- See also: Cameras
During the early years of elevator filming where they weren't many smartphones around, many elevator enthusiasts used digital cameras and camcorders to take videos of elevators. They were much popular than mobile phone cameras due to their better video quality and their ability to take videos in High Definition (HD) quality. It is still used by some elevator enthusiasts today, especially those who don't have a smartphone or simply wanted a more better video quality like Ultra HD/4K. In recent years, there have been a few numbers of people who used GoPro cameras to film elevators. However, GoPro cameras aren't actually popular in the elevator community mainly due to their fish-eye effect.
It may be possible to film with a digital camera in places that allows photography or where CCTV camera is not installed in an elevator. However, in places where security is strict or that don't allow photography, some people avoid filming using digital cameras or camcorders because they might raise suspicion on security guards (unless they already have permission), especially if the elevators are equipped with a CCTV camera. Instead, they may use their smartphones to film.
A lot cheaper than any other videotaping devices, the use of mobile phones for filming elevators are now becoming rare in the elevator community due to their poor video quality, usually at 144 or 240 pixels. Some phones may only support quality up to 480 pixels. These devices used to be quite common in the community before smartphones became popular, and were mostly used by people who couldn't afford a digital camera.
Although it is unknown how and when people's interests in elevators started, Dieselducy is well known for being perhaps the first person to show interest in elevators in the way enthusiasts do today. In 1988, he came up with the idea of filming elevators in his 5th grade classroom when he saw a Video Camcorder on the A/V cart while he was reading a National Geographic magazine article about the high-speed Otis Elevonic 401 scenic elevators at the Marriott Marquis in Atlanta. As a result of becoming fascinated with these elevators at the same time of seeing the camcorder, he thought about how using a camcorder to record this elevator system could allow him to watch the experience of the ride over and over again without having to keep going back to the place, thus forming the concept of filming elevators. He did end up doing it in 1993, making him the first person in the world known to film elevators specifically for hobby-related purposes.
Introduction of elevator filming/enthusiasm to the internet
In addition to coming up with the idea, dieselducy is also well known for introducing elevator filming and enthusiasm to the internet via YouTube videos. He posted the first-ever hobby-based elevator video to YouTube in October 2006, and then in February 2007, when he went to Atlanta to train for his job at Norfolk Southern Railroad, he began uploading elevator videos regularly when he revisited the Atlanta hotels he filmed in back in 1993 and retook those elevators with his Sony T1.
A growing community
Ever since dieselducy filmed several elevators in early 2007, more people who are interested in elevators have come across his videos and started making elevator videos themselves and posting them to YouTube. Although this trend surfaced when crapper1 uploaded a couple elevator videos to YouTube in March 2007, it wasn't until musicfreakcc began filming elevators and uploading them to YouTube that elevator filming became popular.
The presence of elevator enthusiasts have gained the attention of major elevator companies, such as Schindler, thyssenkrupp, Kone and Otis. These companies are usually supportive to them, because some elevator enthusiasts have been giving a positive feedback of the products made by the companies. These companies shows their support to elevator enthusiasts in various ways, such as inviting them to come over to their office or facilities (mainly elevator test center), giving a sample of their own products (like elevator push buttons), merchandise or gifts, making articles of one of them as part of social campaign, and many more. Schindler and thyssenkrupp have been known to be quite active of supporting elevator enthusiasts, especially those in the United States.
On the other hand, local medias have also known their presence. There have been reports of some elevator enthusiasts having been invited by their local medias for an interview explaining about their activities.
Building owners or landlords can sometimes be supportive to elevator enthusiasts, especially when they have a close relationship. They can sometimes allowing them to film elevators in their building, as long as they don't make too much disturbance to other people in the building.
Issues regarding elevator enthusiasts filming elevators
Many places with elevators have rules and/or laws that conflict with elevator photography, especially after the attacks of 9/11. Compared to bus or railway enthusiasts, the presence of elevator enthusiasts, in fact, has drew a lot of issues and even negative reputations to building owners and security guards. These are some of the most common examples.
Conflicts with security guards
Many elevator filmers have been harassed and/or detained by security guards and occasionally police officers due to their behavior of entering buildings and/or taking pictures and videos in places where photography is prohibited or without permission from security guards or building owners. In the worst cases, it has led to the filing of a trespassing order and somethimes calls home from authorities. Elevatortimes is a good example of someone who used to be one of the most well-known elevator photographers but ever since quit filming elevators due to being harassed like this. However, this isn't always a problem on all buildings with security. There are cases where some elevator filmers and security guards have known each others in buildings where they always frequented, such as an apartment where they lives and universities that they are studying.
Private building issues
Elevator filmers that are children or teens (and in rare cases, adult) sometimes get questioned and/or kicked out when trying to enter places such as commercial or privately owned buildings.
There have been cases where elevator enthusiasts were entering private residential buildings without permission. They are usually able to enter these buildings by simply following residents who are returning home or wait for someone to get out from the building, even though there are security gates and intercoms installed to prevent non-residents from entering the building. These behavior of sneaking into private residential buildings are considered as trespassing and illegal, and there have been a few cases where elevator enthusiasts have been detained in private residential buildings. On December 31, 2015, three Indonesian elevator filmers were detained in an apartment in Jakarta for trespassing, and one of them had to surrender their digital camera unless they pay a huge amount of fine for trespassing. In the end, he had to surrender his camera without paying the fine due to budget condition.
Filming of service/freight elevators
The filming of service/freight elevators is also controversial because normally, they are not designed for passengers and restricted to authorized personnel only. Thus the majority of places ban public passengers from riding them. They are also often in restricted areas of the building, so elevator filmers who enter these areas to ride these elevators could, in the worst case, be filed for trespassing and/or burglary charges.
Damage to public property
Some elevator enthusiasts, especially "rogue" ones are committing damages to public property among the elevators. Most elevator filmers in the community do not do this. However, there are some elevator enthusiasts who are causing little damages to the elevators such as pushing the elevator buttons hard enough, damaging other elevator parts, etc. Not only is this extremely disrespectful to the property and you could be fined/thrown out, but the elevator could be a rear one that a "rogue" elevator enthusiast is attempting to destroy. This is completely unacceptable behavior, and we are trying to stop this from occurring more.
Lack of consideration for others
Some elevators who are too fun or serious with filming elevators often dislike the presence of other people in the elevator and don't even care about them. For example, an elevator enthusiast may close the elevator door right in front of an incoming passenger who is about to enter just because they only want to film alone without disruptions. There has been a case where an elevator enthusiast rudely tells people to get out of the elevator while filming and prevents people from entering by putting the elevator into nudge mode.
Some elevator enthusiasts also have a tendency to dislike building owners, employees and security guards. They would feel annoyed when these people are starting to become suspicious and asking to them of what they are doing or other questions that can disturb their activity. In addition, when they are rudely asked or forced to leave the building, they would often take it too seriously. There have been cases where elevator enthusiasts are mocking or insulting security guards or other people from the building who harrashed them to leave on their YouTube videos.
Mocking elevator companies
There are some elevator enthusiasts who likes to mock or making fun of certain elevator companies with various negative words or terms to describe their product's quality, especially towards third-party/generic elevator companies where elevator enthusiasts claims that they always make inexpensive quality elevators that don't last for long compared to elevators built by major elevator companies. Some enthusiasts even goes too far by mocking them on their videos using inapropriate languages. This sort of behavior have made the reputation of the elevator community bad to the people who work in the elevator industry.
The privacy of other people in the elevator is also an issue for elevator enthusiasts. Some people may not feel very comfortable to be featured on videos that elevator enthusiasts are making in an elevator. In some cases, they may kindly ask elevator filmers not to feature them on their video. In extreme cases, some people may get angry and rudely demanding them to stop filming. Because of this, there are some elevator enthusiasts (like JimLiElevators, WaygoodOtis and mailerdiablo) who prefers filming alone and tries to avoid other people's face from getting caught on camera, because they think that other people's privacy is very important. There are also some elevator enthusiasts who purposedly censoring or blurring other (or sometimes, themselves) people's face who have been caught on their videos accidentally.
Sometimes, an elevator enthusiast may also remove other people's voices, phone talks or conversations for privacy reason, especially when they are talking about something that are considered to be "sensitive".
There have been cases where an elevator enthusiast secretly took photos of elevator technicians who are doing maintenance or repair work without permission. This may cause the elevator technicians to become uncomfortable or even nervous because they may think that the people who takes photos of them are from rival companies or other people up to no good.
Many elevator filmers have bought and collected elevator keys off the internet and although that, itself, is completely legal, many filmers in the past have misused such keys on elevators. Most commonly, they have been used to turn off elevator cab fans that enthusiasts find to be annoying and that drown out the sound of the elevator motor. They have also used them to put elevators into special operating modes that, in normal situations, would disrupt normal, efficient elevator operations. The most serious issues are enthusiasts using them to access floors usually restricted to the public without permission and the possibility of falsely summoning the fire department when putting an elevator into fire service. If someone is caught using elevator keys illegally, they could be permanently expelled from the property, filed with trespassing/felony charges, and/or in the worst case, be arrested and thrown in jail. Thus a couple YouTube elevator filmers have made videos addressing this issue to inform others about the unlawfulness of such behaviors.