15. November 2023 Johannes Wolters

First Look: „STARLING“ – Behind the Scenes – Episode 2 – featuring Production Designer Celine You and Animation Supervisor Holger Leihe

Take a peek behind the scenes and learn about the journey of Starling.

Episode 2: Production Design & Animation: The Look, Feel and Movement of the characters in Starling, featuring Production Designer Celine You and Animation Supervisor Holger Leihe.

STARLING tells the story of a mischievous star spirit that travels home to Istanbul to celebrate her birthday with her family one last time. After being blown off course, she must maneuver through the city before time runs out.

The film is now streaming on The Animation Showcase. They also show many other past and current shorts.
Access is free for industry professionals – use this link here!
Find more about The Animation Showcase here: https://www.animationshowcase.com/


Winner of the Best Animated Short prize at this year’s Tribeca Film festival, STARLING was made remotely by a global community of 70+ diverse artists and animators from 14 different countries, STARLING was produced through Pixar’s co-op program which allows employees to leverage equipment available at the studio to further their own creative pursuits in their free time.



„The idea for Starling emerged after the passing of my dear childhood friend. As I began to process my emotions through this film, her memory and my personality merged into one with the development of the Starling character. In essence, the film has become a heartfelt tribute to our shared childhood and to those we’ve loved and lost along the way. It was particularly important to me to involve artists from Turkey in the filmmaking process as the story takes place in Istanbul. I wanted to keep the tone playful to honor my friend’s shining personality and presence. It has been a privilege to create it with people who are experts in the field of animation; lightning in a bottle.“

Mitra Shahidi


Mitra Shahidi

About MITRA SHAHIDI, Director

Mitra Shahidi is a story artist, director, and screenwriter, born and raised in Istanbul, Turkey. After graduating from the Academy of Art University in San Francisco, she worked as an art director and story artist in games, film, and advertising until she joined Pixar Animation Studios as a story artist in 2017. Since joining Pixar, she has worked on several films, including the Academy Award-nominated Luca and the upcoming animated feature Elio. Shahidi currently lives in the San Francisco Bay Area with her husband and newborn daughter, Mona. This is her first film.

Check out the interview with Mitra by Ramin Zahed, Animation Magazine!


About Celine You, Production Designer

Celine You

Celine You is an art director and visual designer currently working at Google Doodle. She is passionate about creating stylized and memorable visual experiences to tell meaningful stories. Before joining Google, she worked as a character designer at Pixar on several feature films and short films including Turning Red, Soul, Toy Story 4, Kitbull, and Wind. In her spare time, she loves collaborating with artists on various projects. In 2021, she art directed a short film called Opera, which was nominated for an Oscar in the Best Animated Short Film category. If not doing art, she enjoys hiking and climbing rocks, staying as close as possible to nature. Celine You: https://www.instagram.com/celineyou/


Holger Leihe

About Holger Leihe, Animation Supervisor

Holger Leihe studied Illustration and Design at the Folkwang School in Germany. As a student he worked for 18 months as an animator for Richard Williams in London and also directed two short films that were shown at animation festivals in Zagreb, Hiroshima, Espinho, Stuttgart and Ottawa. After graduating he went on to work on feature films at Warner Bros., DreamWorks and Disney. Since joining Pixar in 2006 he has worked on most of the studio’s feature films and also on several of the hand drawn animation projects, including the Spark shorts Kitbull, Burrow and Twenty Something. On Starling he supervised the hand drawn and CG animation. He started with pre-production, working on model sheets, turnarounds, character layouts and previs. He assembled a team of animators whose work he admires and worked with Mitra on providing feedback on the animation iterations.

Holger Leihe: https://www.linkedin.com/in/holger-leihe-4158226/

Holger`s Statement on LinkedIn:

I would like to highlight and celebrate the gifted animators who worked on the film:
Cansu Atlar Misirli, Quincy Baltes, Céline Botté, Jakub Bednarz, Bruno Cohen Castelnuovo, Jorge Pozo Coronado, Don Crum, Jon Densk, Victor Ens, Javier Ferrer, jonathan Fontaine, Lorenzo Fresta, Clément GIRARD, Joel Guthrie, Lea Hirt, Lucie Julliat, HA Jung, Rohit Kelkar, Gabriel Khouzam, Francisco Magalhaes, Basil MALEK, Bruno de Mendonca, Laura Cobo Meneses, Sergio Mateo Merino, Yagiz Misirli, Anh Ngo, Thiago Geremias de Oliveira, Joey PaoneDiego Porrall, Diana Schein, Ahmet Tabak, Tuğrul Tiryaki, Steph Waldo, Anthony Wong, Zeynep Yıldız, Kerem Yoruk


Director: Mitra Shahidi

Producer: Jessica Heidt

Animation Supervisor: Holger Leihe

Editor: Ayse Dedeoglu Arkali

Director of Photography: Andrew Jimenez

Production Designer: Celine You

VFX Supervisor: Kristoffer Landes

Music: Andrew Jimenez

Sound Design: Justin Pearson,

CG Modeling: Kaleb Landes, Arnaud Malus

Supervising Technical Directors: Michael OBrien Kristoffer Landes,

Production Management: Eunice Omega, Cara Brody, Staphon Arnold

WEBISTE: https://www.starlingshort.com/

Folkwang Hochschule, Essen - Werden

Folkwang, Hochschule der Künste, Essen Werden

Here is Episode 1: Introduction, released last week:

Coming up in the next weeks:

  • Episode 3: “Story & Edit: Crafting the story of Starling,” with director Mitra Shahidi and editor Ayse Arkali
  • Episode 4: “Camera, Lighting & Visual Effects: How the world of Starling was made,” with director of photography Andrew Jimenez and VFX supervisor Kristoffer Landes
  • Episode 5: “Music & Sound Design: The Sounds of Starling,” with composer Andrew Jimenez and sound designer Justin Pearson

Starling Trailer from jessica heidt on Vimeo.

Find Starling on IMDB: https://www.imdb.com/title/tt27617511/


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