that pesky Ops turbolift

Discussion in 'Star Trek: Deep Space Nine' started by 1moreRobot, Mar 28, 2014.

  1. 1moreRobot

    1moreRobot Ensign Red Shirt

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    There are a lot of problematic things about the open turbolift in Ops. Does it speed up once it gets out of eyeshot? Is there something that prevents someone from falling down the turboshaft when the lift isn't present (or is their a hatch that closes over it)? Could someone inside the lift accidentally fall against the wall of the turbshaft, or is there a forcefield in place? Why not just enclose the thing with a door?

    But I'm willing to let all that go. In fact, my concern isn't about the in-universe turbolift at all. It's about the set piece that our beloved DS9 actors worked with for some many years.

    Does anyone else think that the DS9 Ops turbolift set would potentially be very dangerous? It seems like you could easily lose a limb (or worse) as it moved down. I'm sure the actors were instructed to stay well clear of the opening, but the mechanicals didn't seem all that smooth, so it seems possible that someone would stumble when the lift jerked into motion.

    It bothers me each and every time I see that thing in use. Am I the only one?
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2014
  2. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    It looks like the top of the lift is flush with the floor once it sinks down. In real life, that's because it didn't descend any further, but in-universe, it seems that the top surface we see is some sort of "cap" that's pushed up by the lift underneath when it rises and left behind when it descends. Which is really weird, but the only interpretation that seems to fit the visual evidence.

    Lots of film and TV sets have moving lifts. The TMP, TNG, and VGR engine room sets had single-person lifts along the sides of the warp reactor shaft, and the ENT engine room had a boxier lift at the front. As far as safety is concerned, remember that every movement that on-camera performers make on a set is planned and choreographed in advance, so you're less likely to have someone stumbling or wandering in at the wrong moment than you would on, say, a real-world construction site with an open elevator. And wherever any mechanical effect or potentially risky prop is concerned, there would be people responsible for monitoring safety, the same as with any stunt or pyrotechnic effect.

    Not to mention that the upper portions of the lift were probably made mostly of wood and lightweight materials rather than metal and thus might have been less heavy/sturdy and less of a hazard than they looked.
     
  3. Melakon

    Melakon Admiral Admiral

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    It probably wasn't any more dangerous than the descending elevator used in The Wizard of Oz when the Witch makes her exit from Munchkinland. Never mind that Margaret Hamilton nearly got burned to death during the take (which is in the film), because the guy controlling the fire started it before his cue.
     
  4. bbjegglebells

    bbjegglebells Admiral Admiral

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    Cardassian regulations state; Who cares? I'm sure the station's designers cared more about getting Bajor's resources then employee safety. I think the Federation didn't change it due to there always being something bigger to worry about.
     
    Last edited: Mar 29, 2014
  5. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    If there was a way for somebody to get into that area beneath it when it is in raised position, then yeah, that sounds pretty problematic, like you'd need some serious 'all clear' or visual observation of it being empty before running it. I wouldn't have thought that way, but a couple years ago at Goodwill in Washington one of the clients managed to activate & climb/fall into a trash compactor and was crushed to death, even though you'd figure such a thing would be failsafed any number of ways from Sunday.
     
  6. 1moreRobot

    1moreRobot Ensign Red Shirt

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    Interesting you mention this. I work at a college and several years back, one of our students went missing. They found his remains in a landfill some time later. Somehow, he had crawled into (or was forced into) a garbage chute that led to a compacter in the basement. Very grisly.
     
  7. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    Considering how the Ops set must have been built on pretty high supports to allow the lift element to work as it did (and to give room for O'Brien's work pit), I'd be more worried about the whole thing collapsing. It's not as if it would have been constructed out of duranium for real...

    Sisko's office in particular would be set very high above the concrete floor, with nothing but a plywood wall behind his back to stop him from falling if he got too laid-back with his office chair. And a wall with a big hole in it at that, covered with just a piece of black velvet with "star" holes in it. :eek:

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  8. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    The lift was probably operated by stagehands below the set, so they would've been in a position to make sure the area underneath was clear. Again, we're not talking about a real elevator operating on an unpredictable schedule. We're talking about a set piece that only moves when a cue is given after a lengthy period of preparation.

    And Hollywood set builders have many years of experience at building wooden scaffolding that can support the weight of the sets and actors. The ship sets originally built for ST:TMP remained in place for over twenty years. True, they were mostly on one level aside from the upper engineering deck, but then there's the elaborate 3-story-high Stargate Command complex from Stargate SG-1, which held together for eleven years through ten seasons and two DVD movies.

    I mean, heck, many houses are built on wooden frameworks, and we don't worry about them collapsing. Wood is a strong material. It evolved to hold up massive trees for dozens or hundreds of years.
     
  9. 1moreRobot

    1moreRobot Ensign Red Shirt

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    My worry was more along the lines of the potential "pinch" (read: guillotine) hazard for someone inside the lift.

    I'm sure it was designed with some sort of safety measures in place. It just always concerns me when I see it and takes me out of the show!
     
  10. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    I guess that was the intent here: let's build a set piece that looks really dangerous, so that the audience will come to fear for the life and limb of the heroes whenever they operate in this "hostile alien environment". I believe there were some ideas originally about omitting safety rails in the Promenade set, too.

    The very real mechanical hazards of the lift mechanism just represent a slightly different variety of threat than the imaginary risks of those exposed "power conduits" that glow in the background; the overall intent would still be the same.

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  11. 1moreRobot

    1moreRobot Ensign Red Shirt

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    Interesting point. It seems like it would be very expensive to build everything up so high just to accommodate the elevator.

    Maybe they had access down to a subfloor (like many theatrical stages do) to create the pit and lift.
     
  12. Christopher

    Christopher Writer Admiral

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    Actors are trained to stand where they're directed to stand. So they'd be unlikely to be standing too far forward in the lift. Plus, as I said, the top portions were probably flimsier than they looked.


    It's actually pretty common to build raised sets so that any necessary wiring or mechanics or the like can be run under the floor. And many soundstages have basements, I think.

    Not to mention that the ops turbolift was on a raised portion of the set to begin with, so that helped some.
     
  13. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    ...Which reminds me, another recent thread mentioned the E-E bridge set in ST:NEM as having been (re)built to stand on a shaking mechanism. Is that just an urban legend or what? Sure, they left out any scenes connecting the set to the Ready Room or the Observation Lounge, but it's still a rather large area - wouldn't it have to be disproportionately sturdy and heavy so as not to lose integrity when shaken?

    Timo Saloniemi
     
  14. Herkimer Jitty

    Herkimer Jitty Rear Admiral Rear Admiral

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    It doesn't seem too unbelievable. The same thing was done with the Protector command deck for Galaxy Quest.

    It would explain why both the ready room and conference room sets were modified to no longer directly connect to the bridge.
     
  15. Ro_Laren

    Ro_Laren Commodore Commodore

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    I always thought that the lift looked like a safety hazard to the Starfleet officers & others on the station. I never thought about it being a safety hazard to the cast and crew that worked on the show.
     
  16. dub

    dub Fleet Captain Fleet Captain

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    Location? What is this?
    No worries, just keep an updated copy of yourself in the transporter buffer. ;) I always thought the lift made for some cool visuals. I never thought about the danger in-universe or for the cast/crew.
     
  17. trevanian

    trevanian Rear Admiral

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    It was done with the GEN's E-B bridge as well, and that was done years after the set was built for TFF.
     
  18. Tosk

    Tosk Vice Admiral Admiral

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    The Nemesis E bridge was indeed built on a gimbal.

    Are you sure? I thought I recalled the only mechanization being "seat shakers" (I think. Or it may have just been the D that got those?) ...and visually, the film seems to only use actor-rocking/camera shake and some particularly obvious digital camera shake added in post.
     
  19. doctorfoto

    doctorfoto Commodore Commodore

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    Agreed.

    It was implied in several episodes, most notably Destiny that the Cardassians were not as concerned and the Feds were almost too cautious with safety protocols and secondary backups. As it was said this being a Cardassian mining station manned by slave labor probably meant safety was even less of a priority.

    I wouldn't be surprised if the Feds had installed at least an unseen force field around the lift for when it was not present in ops. Also I agree with the idea that the lift probably slowed considerably when coming and going from ops.
     
  20. Timo

    Timo Fleet Admiral Admiral

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    What slave labor? Bajorans were treated like dirt, but we never really heard anything about slavery aboard Terok Nor.

    We heard of at least one planetside labor camp where people were locked up (for supposed crimes) and then told to mine stuff for no obvious compensation. But DS9 did not appear to involve many elements of locking up. Say, commuting Bajoran laborers were shuffled through the Promenade, a supposedly "Cardassian" part of the station with entertainment facilities such as Quark's; see "Necessary Evil". The episode also shows how said laborers could be operating shops, or hanging around enjoying a cup of tea, or having rather short assignments to the station, followed not by retirement-through-burial but reassignment (as with Kira's cover)... The Ferengi are said to pay their Bajorans, and not just to pay for their Bajorans. It very much seems as if DS9 is an opportunity for the privileged Bajoran elite, a way of surviving the Occupation under a somewhat lighter and cleaner heel than most.

    Whether Cardassians pay the workers, we don't know. What it takes to get assigned to a specific work detail, we don't know. But there's nothing explicitly pointing to slavery there, just to a defeated and subjugated population continuing their lives in a two-tier society.

    Which as such might not be all that new or objectionable to Bajorans, who until then had lived in a strict caste system! Basically, it's just the same system pared down to two castes, with the standard of living plummeting and with feral Bajorans trying to usher in nationalist fervor and a caste of their own.

    In "Crossfire", a sabotaged and falling lift had no such field to stop Odo from turning himself into a mechanical brake that pressed against the shaft walls. Whether such a field had been there before the sabotage, we don't know.

    Cardassian architects and engineers are also big on psychology: the Prefect's Office looms over Ops, there are humiliating pits and dominating catwalks all over, and so forth. Having the lift very slowly emerge from the floor/pedestal might look "dignified", and also "menacing" as the head of the Prefect slowly emerges and takes a good look at the surroundings, followed by his impressive body in full armor. Or "humiliating" as an arriving guest has to watch the Ops masters' boots up close for a long time...

    Timo Saloniemi