The Elevator Video



Elisa Lam at the Cecil Hotel on February 1, 2013. 
This is the longer version of the video released by the LAPD on February 15, 2013.


Elisa Lam 00:36 Elevator video. Red sweatshirt with white zipper, light colored top, red or burgundy sandals with multiple straps. Long shorts or capris cut jeans. Is she smiling?
Approximate flooring pattern outside the elevator on both floors.





Video Descriptions & Notes

00:00 to 01:00 | 01:00 to 02:00 | 02:00 to 03:00 | 03:00 to 04:00


00:00 to 01:00 The First Minute

  • 00:00 Elevator doors open. Light-colored tiled floor. Dark walls, possibly dark blue, with a lighter color accent.
  • 00:03 Elisa Lam comes into view from the left side of the screen.
  • 00:07 Elisa Lam bends over into a slight crouch near the control panel inside the elevator.
  • 00:12 Elisa Lam stands upright and backs into the corner towards the rear of the elevator on the right side of the screen.
  • 00:13-00:19 Six seconds of no movement.
  • 00:20 Elisa Lam steps forward.
  • 00:23 Elisa Lam pauses midstep and appears to look outside the elevator into the hall, to the left.
  • 00:24 Elisa Lam lunges forward with her right leg forward and looks to the right quickly enough to whip her hair around.
  • 00:26 Elisa Lam lunges back into the elevator and stands perfectly upright with her ankles close together in the middle of the elevator.
  • 00:27-00:29 Elisa Lam takes a large step sideways to her right, turns 90ΒΊ to her left and then put her back on the right side wall adjacent to the button panel. Her hands are together in front of her.
  • 00:30-00:31 Elisa Lam took a quick sidestep into the corner at the front right of the elevator nearest the button panel. She put her back to the corner and appears to be looking out of the open elevator doors.
  • 00:32-00:35 Three seconds of no movement, but some facial expression changes.
  • 00:36 Elisa Lam appears to be smiling.
  • 00:37-00:41 Elisa Lam slowly approaches the open elevator doors. She starts to peek out and pauses.
  • 00:43 Elisa Lam leans against the doorway to the elevator to her immediate right.
  • 00:44-00:46 Elisa Lam appears to be standing in a relaxed fashion, possibly with more weight on one foot or the other or even with her ankles slightly crossed. In these two seconds, she slowly shifts her gaze from right to left.
  • 00:47-00:48 Elisa Lam stands still for two seconds.
  • 00:49 Elisa Lam steps forward with her right foot. She slowly shifts her weight forward while looking to her left.
  • 00:54 Elisa Lam takes a jovial leap forward and brings her ankles together.
  • 00:56 Elisa Lam takes a sidestep to the left and pauses with her ankles 18″ apart.
  • 00:57 Elisa Lam slides her right foot in to meet her left foot.
  • 00:58-00:59 Elisa Lam lifted her left foot up and took a step backwards into the elevator. She continued facing forward with her back to the camera and facing the open elevator doors.
  • 00:59-01:00 Elisa Lam brings her right foot back into the elevator and places it next to her left foot.


01:00 to 02:00 The Second Minute

  • 01:00 Elisa Lam immediately shifts her weight and steps forward with her right foot.
  • 01:01-01:03 Elisa Lam sidesteps to the left in the hallway outside the elevator.
  • 01:05-01:06 Elisa Lam is entirely out of the camera’s frame for almost two seconds.
  • 01:07 An individual standing outside the elevator appears present, although only a right arm and shoulder are seen initially.
  • 01:13 The individual outside the elevator raises their right arm. This appears to be Elisa Lam’s arm as the sweatshirt sleeve is the same color as the one seen on Elisa Lam previously.
  • 01:16 The right elbow is seen pointed upward. View is partly obstructed.
  • 01:17-01:29 Very little movement.
  • 01:30 Elisa Lam quickly turns to her right and steps into the elevator. As she steps forward, it appears her arms had been over her head and she appears to be bringing them down as she steps into the elevator.
  • 01:31 Elisa Lam puts one hand on each side of the doorway (where the elevator doors are).
  • 01:35 Elisa Lam returned to the button panel on the inside of the elevator to the right of the open elevator doors. She is bent over at her waste with her knees slightly bent.
  • 01:36 Elisa Lam is seen pushing buttons on the control panel for the elevator. It almost appears as if she’s alternating pushing buttons with her left and right thumbs.
  • 01:35-01:50 Elisa Lam continues pushing buttons on the control panel, seemingly randomly.
  • 01:51 It appears as though Elisa Lam is done with the buttons, possibly because they didn’t do what she expected. Her body language suggests frustration. She puts her left hand on her forehead and steps out of the elevator. The elevator doors are staying open unaided still.
  • 01:55 Elisa Lam exits the elevator and returns to her previous position outside the elevator to the left side and mostly obstructed from view.
  • 01:58 Elisa Lam turns to her right and makes a gesture with her hands.
  • 01:58-02:06 Elisa Lam continues making hand gestures that approach the limit of a natural angle for the average person’s wrists. Each hand appears to be making a different motion.


02:00 to 03:00 The Third Minute

  • 02:02-02:03 Elisa Lam’s right hand can be seen with her palm downward, almost making a gesture like someone would wiping a table.
  • 02:06-02:08 Elisa Lam’s hands sync up and make the same rippling or waving type motion.
  • 02:12-02:20 The gestures change. It appears that Elisa Lam is touching her left hand with her right hand, possibly pointing to the left hand or cracking the knuckles in the left hand. The gestures during these 8 seconds might also be accentuations common during normal conversation.
  • 02:20-02:24 Elisa Lam stands relatively still.
  • 02:25 Elisa Lam raises her right hand above her head, pivots on her left foot, turns left, and walks out of frame.
  • 02:26-02:56 No movement. Possible shifting shadows. May require followup.
  • 02:57 The elevator doors close. None of the buttons are illuminated.


03:00 to 04:00 The Fourth Minute

  • 03:01 Elevator doors fully close.
  • 03:02-03:12 Ten seconds of no movement.
  • 03:13 Elevator doors start to open.
  • 03:18 Elevator doors fully open to reveal the exact same hallway seen from 00:00 to 02:57.
  • 03:22 Elevator doors start to close.
  • 03:28 Elevator doors are fully shut.
  • 03:28-03:40 Twelve seconds of no movement or perceivable motion.
  • 03:40 Elevator doors start to open.
  • 03:46 Elevator doors open fully to reveal the same flooring as the other floor, bu this floor has red walls instead of dark blue walls.
  • 03:50 Elevator door start to close.
  • 03:56 Elevator doors fully shut.
  • 03:56-03:59 No movement.
  • 03:59 Video ends.


The Elevator Game


There are reports that this photo of the buttons inside an elevator were taken by an investigator in the Cecil Hotel in 2013. The validity of that claim cannot be assured. A building permit from the Los Angeles Department of Building and Safety confirmed that the Cecil Hotel has 14 floors. The elevator panel shown does not have a 13th floor and has 14 floors total. You can view other building and safety related permits through the LADBS using the address 640 S. Main St. in Los Angeles. Look at variations and nearby addresses that are even numbers like the address we know is correct. Odd numbers would be on the other side of the street. There are hundreds of building permits relating to that location.

At very least, this is a common enough button panel for buildings in Los Angeles like the Cecil Hotel. Compare the image to the footage of Elisa Lam in the elevator. Can you figure out which buttons she appears to be pushing? In the first 13 seconds of the footage released by the LAPD from inside the elevator, Ms. Lam is pushing buttons low on the panel. That might explain why the elevator doors stay open for so long. At 1:32 in the elevator video, Ms. Lam begins pushing buttons again. Is it random? Some people have attributed to this to a Korean ritual aptly called “The Elevator Game.”





Outside in the Hall


After analyzing the nearly 4-minute video from the elevator, one-second at a time, I noted that the elevator only seems to stop at two unique floors. The walls where Elisa Lam is seen appear to be dark blue. The other floor noted appears to have red walls.





More Elisa Lam Notes: