Careers: Houdini FX supervisor Clive Llewellyn
Issue: January/February 2024

Careers: Houdini FX supervisor Clive Llewellyn

Clive Llewellyn is a Houdini FX supervisor at Lux Aeterna ( in Bristol, UK, which is known for its work on the Morgan Freeman-narrated Netflix series Our Universe. The studio is also a long-time collaborator of BBC Studio’s and some of David Attenborough’s most iconic productions. A key contributor to the Our Universe series, Llewellyn recently shared his journey working on the Emmy-nominated hit with Post. 

Clive, how did you get started in the industry? 

“I started animating whilst in school around the age of 14, in a piece of software called Macromedia Flash, which later went on to become Adobe Flash before it was depreciated. This is where my passion for moving images began. It was also my first introduction to coding. 

“I followed this passion through high school and university using various 3D software along the way. In my second year of university, I was introduced to Houdini, which was the industry standard for VFX. The procedural nature was instantly appealing to me and the fact I could use code to help aid design was the icing on the cake. From here, I never looked back.

“In my early career, I was more motion-graphics oriented, creating broadcast graphics for live events, such as The Brit Awards and MTV’s Video Music Awards. However my passion for FX was always there, so after a few years I decided to focus more on this aspect, as I found it more challenging and rewarding.”

When did you first join Lux Aeterna, and in what capacity?

“I first joined Lux Aeterna in February 2021. I was brought in to be an FX artist on Our Universe, and have been here since! 

Why did you choose to base yourself in Bristol and not London? 

“Bristol has a very celebrated art and design culture. With events such as Up Fest occurring every year. It's a great city for creatives.”  

What are some of your highlights from your time at Lux Aeterna? 

“My favorite project so far has been Our Universe. I had the opportunity to work on a variety of different FX shots, ranging in a wide variety of subject matters.”

How do you feel about your career so far?

“I am proud to be part of a company full of like minded people who all share a similar passion. Seeing the momentum Lux Aeterna is gaining and being a part of that is nice.” 

Can you offer insight into where you find inspiration?

“I like to take inspiration from wherever I can, new visual stimuli are great for the mind, and taking inspiration from experiences is a must in my opinion. I like to watch a lot of films and TV shows. Sometimes I will watch a film, even if it has low ratings, specifically for the FX. I also watch lots of presentations about various subject matters and try to apply things I’ve learned in interesting ways.”

Can you talk us through a typical piece, from conception to final render?

“Sure. The process begins by having an initial discussion, where we break down the client's brief. Taking time to understand the general key elements and narrative. From here we enter the storyboard/concept phase. We design thumbnail frames depicting the visual language and intention to couple visual content with drama and narrative. From here, we have an open discussion with the client before entering into a previs stage, where we block out rough camera moves with simple objects to create a moving version of the storyboard frames. This is used for timing, framing, composition and editing to make sure the sequence flows and is visually pleasing. Usually at this stage, there is a little back and forth between us and the client before we sign off on the camera move and layout of the shot. We now enter the main build stage, where we begin creating high-polygonal models; FX such as smoke simulations or destruction; and finally lighting and texturing.”

What VFX industry changes have impacted you the most? 

“The latest technology really shaking things up is AI. Right now there is growing concern within the art and design communities with artists not knowing how AI is going to change the industry moving forward. I am sure over the next few years AI is going to become very dominant in this field, but as of right now, I can only guess as to how drastically things will change.”

Do you have advice for those trying to break into the VFX industry?

“Stay motivated, be persistent and be original!”