A young alien named Stu is taking a test in human abduction. He must capture a sleeping man named Ernie under the watchful eye of his instructor, Mr. B. However, there are thousands of unlabeled toggle switches he must operate to get the human inside the spaceship and he has having trouble. He hesitantly flicks random switches and bounces the human around his bedroom like a pinball (never waking up from his slumber through it all). Stu eventually succeeds in manuevering Ernie out the window and into the ship, but he accidentally shuts down the tractor beam without closing the cargo hatch. As Ernie plummets to the ground, Mr B catches him and starts working the switches with great speed to put the human back into his bed and clean up the mess Stu created. Stu is distraught over his lack of success but Mr. B generously allows him to drive the space ship home. Stu gleefully takes hold of the joystick and lifts the ship into the air: a moment later the ship smashes into the ground, demolishing Ernie's house in the process. When the ship leaves nothing is left of the house except a tall pillar of dirt in the center of a giant crater. Atop this Ernie is still sound asleep in his bed.
During the end credits there is the sound of an alarm clock going, then a Wilhelm scream as Ernie falls into the crater, below him, and finally a thud.
Production on the film began in mid-2005 and was completed in the summer of 2006. It debuted with Pixar's theatrical release of Ratatouille (June 29, 2007). However, the short received a sneak peek at the 42nd Chicago International Film Festival.
There were no large technological advances used in Lifted, only the use of a new program called Jiggle. This program gives the animators a way to resonate, or jiggle, certain parts of a body. The animator can control how far out to resonate, such as only within a limb, or to stay away from specific parts of the body such as the face.
- Tinny from Tin Toy can be seen under Ernie's bed as he is being abducted.
- Ernie is an early design model of Alfredo Linguini from Ratatouille, the movie that this short premiered with in theatres.
- Mr. B and Stu are believed by some to be related to an idea that was abandoned in WALL•E, which is that the humans used to be gelatinous blobs (often called "Gels" in the film's production) that had similar looking bodies.
- Stus voice is provided by Gary Rydstrom's dog Chester. This is the second time a dog was used for sound production. The first time was in Toy Story where a dog named Buster played Scud.
- When Ernie falls off the cliff after the credits, the scream that is heard is the Wilhelm scream, a scream that originated in the 1951 film Distant Drums that is often heard in a variety of media. However, this scream was made famous by the Star Wars franchise in which it is mostly associated with in popular culture.
- When in the spaceship, as Stu is abducting Ernie and fails, the fail sound which the hologram uses was the macOS "Hero" alert sound.
- According to a commentary by Gary Rydstrom, the timing it takes Ernie to fall when the beam was turned off was the same timing it takes Wile E Coyote to fall in a Road-Runner & Wile E Coyote cartoon.