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‘John Smith’ is the Canadian visual effects virtuoso responsible for some stunning computer-generated imagery in the Twelfth Doctor’s final adventures. But how did he go from fan to pro?
Concept art by John Smith for the black hole in World Enough and Time (2017).
John published his first Doctor Who fan video in 2010 – a trailer for that year’s Special, A Christmas Carol (, which featured the Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith).

This is the story of a Doctor Who fan who went from making YouTube videos inspired by his favourite TV show to being offered a job on it – designing and animating black holes, spaceships and space-time vortexes on Peter Capaldi’s swansong episodes. “It’s all kind of been an accident”, he says.

For now, ‘John Smith’ wishes to remain anonymous, hence the pseudonym. “I like the idea of my work standing on its own”, he explains, “without the creator getting in the way. It almost feels more honest that way.” But we can tell you that he’s in his early 20s, he’s from Canada, and his videos – uploaded to his JohnSmithVFX YouTube channel – have amassed over 13 million views. Also, he owes a lot to Doctor Who. “This show is almost singlehandedly responsible for making me want to become a filmmaker”, he says.

“I was first introduced to it through my father, who was a massive fan of Doctor Who growing up. He used to tell me bedtime stories every night, and one evening he told me about these terrifying creatures called Daleks. It just captured my imagination. So I watched a handful of classic serials. Remembrance of the Daleks [1988] was my first. In 2003, when it was announced that Doctor Who was coming back, I couldn’t have been more excited.”

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About Doctor Who Magazine

New year, new Doctor... We have an exclusive interview with the newly regenerated Thirteenth Doctor, Jodie Whittaker! Plus new showrunner Chris Chibnall writes exclusively for DWM. Doctor Who Magazine 521 also includes: • An interview with Twice Upon a Time director Rachel Talalay, who talks us through Peter and Jodie's regeneration scene • DWM's Twice Upon a Time set report and review • An interview with 'John Smith', Doctor Who fan turned visual effects pro working on the Twelfth Doctor's final adventures • A tribute to Dudley Simpson, Doctor Who's prolific composer from 1964 to 1980 • Highlights of Dudley Simpson's Doctor Who scores • A first-hand account of how the 1960s TARDIS prop was recreated for Twice Upon a Time • Writer and illustrator Adam Hargreaves explains how his Mr Men entered the world of Doctor Who • Part three of The Phantom Piper, our new comic strip adventure featuring the Doctor and Bill • Fact of Fiction explores the 1977 Fourth Doctor story The Face of Evil • Previews, book, audio and DVD reviews, news, the DWM Christmas Quiz answers, The Blogs of Doom, prize-winning competitions and much, much more!