• Plaban Bagchi

Pixar: Lifted

Well, these Pixar shorts are always such a delight before any Pixar movie (yes, even the Olaf one for me in Coco :-) This time I pen down my notes for Pixar’s Lifted. It’s written for the screen and directed by Gary Rydstrom.

Here is the video link: https://youtu.be/58Na0-C1e2U?t=21/ I seriously hope this link is not pulled down by Disney from YouTube.

Descriptions follow the pictures. Read pictures in rows from left to right. 


[1] We begin by the Pixar lamp hopping into the frame from the right. It hops to between ‘P’ and ‘I’, turns to look at the ‘I’, jumps over it and squeezes it below it. The lamp turns to us. [2] The lamp face dissolves into a fool full moon, night. Night cricket foleys. [3] We pan down slowly. The title ‘L I F T E D’ appears in bluish light beam colour with a soft glow. [4] We pan down. The title disappears as it hits the horizon. [5] The pan comes to a stop to reveal an isolated house, a tree and a windmill, a mailbox, out in nowhere. A BEAT.


Notes: The setup looks to ‘normal’ almost telling what wrong can happen in this quiet lonely place.


[1] We see a wooden swing (not seen in the establishment shot). We stay. BEAT. BEAT. [2] The swing moves forward on its own. Comes back, as we J-cut the wood creaking sound to…


Notes: Something spooky is happening, or is it?

[1] We see the windmill. A BEAT. [2] The windmill starts moving and its blade rotating on its own. Windmill turning sound.


Notes:  Yes, definitely something spooky.


[1] A boy, facing opposite to us, is sleeping. We stay. BEAT. BEAT. BEAT. [2] Sudden dramatic music. An intense light beam from the window fills the room.


Notes: But everything looks and feels so normal and quiet… until… yes there is trouble!


[1] Dramatic music continues. Reveal to show a section of UFO, slowly turning, beaming the light into the room.


Notes: a. There is a big trouble, literally :p b. To show the massive UFO, we don’t see a long shot of the whole scene with the ratio of UFO and the house clearly visible. Instead, the UFO is so in your face big as if capturing the view of a person watching the scene… a UFO so big that it literally doesn’t fit the view.


[1] The boy is lifted up, chest-up. Waist-down still dangling on the bed. [2] The head turns from sideways to face the roof. waist-down too gets uplifted as the blanket starts falling [3] The body is lifted, straight, completely, as the blanket falls. The uplifted body starts turning, boy’s head towards the window. [4] The body, head first, turning towards the window. [5] We see the boy turning towards the window, a better view. The boy’s head faces the window, he stops turning. [6] The boy starts moving towards the open window.


Notes: Okay, so the boy is going to be lifted to the spaceship. This is what the story is all about!


[1], [2] The boy’s head is moving towards the window. [3] The lighting on the hair changes. It darkens.

Notes: the boy doesn’t seem to be moving towards the direction of light from the window. [4] The boy’s head crashes into the wall beside the window.


[1] The boy doesn’t react to crashing into the wall. He opens his mouth. Snores. Blows air out of the mouth. [2] He closes his mouth in sleep. [3] His body moves away from the wall as if he was pulled away. [4] His body again moves with a sudden force towards the wall. CRASH. [5] Body again moves away from the wall after crashing. The boy’s mouth is opened. SNORES.


[1] We see the same section of UFO, afloat, turning slowly about its centre, the light beam from its base through the window of the house. The house illuminated with light from inside in the middle of the night. We again hear a crashing sound from inside of the house.


Notes: a. The touch of crashing sound from inside the house is a good tool I will use in some of my videos. b. Before cutting to the next scene of aliens, this shot serves as a good paragraphing shot for cut into the next one.


[1] An alien clicks a switch among many in a panel in front of him. A holographic section of a house is visible in the frame. [2] He turns to see the holographic house. A red light flashes on his face and the holographic house. A beep from the panel. [3] The alien closes his eyes and ducks down his head. The holographic house gets distorted, the way 80s television used to have due to electrical or signal interference or disturbance. [4] The holographic house becomes ‘normal’. The alien opens his left eye and his eyes expectantly look up to the left.

[1] A bigger alien with a writing board is staring. BEAT. [2] His right shoulders move higher. There is a click sound. His arms, holding a pen, move into the frame. He starts scribbling something onto the writing board sheet. J-cut on the scribbling sounds to… [3] Both the aliens behind a long horizontal desk with a lot of switches. The bigger alien is by the left taking scribble. The smaller one, holographic house and holographic ship on top of the house, in the middle of the frame.


Notes: a. I find it very interesting that instead of establishing both the aliens together in the ship, a shot that soon follows, we cut directly to the culprit alien: whom we all wanted to see (who is causing all this trouble?) b. When the smaller alien turns his eyes left to have a look at another alien, we cut to what his point of view, instead of, again, a two-shot to show both the characters. It’s a revel segment. c. In [3] we see both the aliens together in the same shot for the first time. Our little alien’s magnification is pretty small.


[1] We hear low vibratory hum – the sound of the interior of the spaceship. We see the panel will an array of identical uncountable switches. We see our little alien, his back facing the camera, us, lingering his fingers over a few switches. [2] He pushes a switch. [3] Click. The holographic house and holographic spaceship left to him glow red for a moment. A beep. [4] The alien’s head hops up slightly before ducking down, like the last time.


Notes: The ducking down of the little alien whenever he does a mistake is duly noted as a reaffirming character quirk to show that since we do not have any dialogues in the short animation.


[1] The instructor alien looking at actions of the minion alien. [2] He looks down to his writing board, puts his pen down to start writing. He hears primal nervous fearful sound syllables. [3] The instructor alien looks up again to the minion. We hear lingering broken nervous fearful primal sound syllables.


[1] The little alien’s mouth is wide open, teeth visible, eyes pleading, right hand with all fingers open, making the stop gesture towards the instructor alien. [2] Suddenly the little alien’s head moves back as he sees the instructor looking at him, sucks air into his mouth and closes the mouth in a gasp. The closed mouth lips look like an asterisk (*) mark. [3] With mouth closed, lips like an asterisk, his upper part of head (with eyes) twists slightly, eyes look down at the panel switches right below. And we cut to…


[1] The boy afloat horizontally, head facing towards the window, foot facing us. [2] He moves from left to right of the screen. [3] Moves again towards left, a lesser distance offset from the window now. [4] Moves to right, again at an offset from the window opening. [5] Oscillates left and right a few times before resting right opposite to the window opening, the light beam from which is flooding the frame. [6] The body begins to move towards tad bit towards the window opening… Dramatic music rising…


Notes: The play with lights, as the body moves past it and oscillates against it is really making the best use of the setup.


[1], [2] The body rushes as if being pulled to the right of the frame and disappears. [3] A book falls. [4] Empty frame with only the window visible. Breaking of china-ware, as we J-cut to…



P.S. Due to an error in rendering, the timecode starts at 00:00:21:01 instead of 00:00:00:00


Written by :

Priyadarshi Siddharth

Creative Consultant

Big Klick

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