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Kerner Optical

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Real World article
(written from a Production point of view)
Kerner Optical

Kerner Optical, known as KernerFX, was the visual effects division of the Kerner Group, based on Kerner Blvd. in San Rafael, California. Kerner was, until 2006, part of the LucasFilm family as the physical and practical effects division of Lucas' Industrial Light & Magic (ILM). While KernerFX provided its world-class VFX services to other studios, Kerner also worked on ILM projects including 2009's Star Trek.

KernerFX provides industry leading services including model making, creature design and manufacture, and makeup shops; special effects and pyrotechnics; property and set construction; camera engineering and design; rigging and mechanical effects; stereoscopic 3D and blue/green screen capabilities; a research and development department; and fully operational stages and production facilities for interior and exterior filming.

History

When ILM moved its digital effects departments to San Francisco in 2005, it was determined that the physical production departments would remain in the original San Rafael facilities. ILM's former physical production departments ultimately became KernerFX, operating independently of and in conjunction with ILM. KernerFXl finalized its purchase from ILM in 2006, with the company officially opening for business in August of that year. [1] A consequence of this was that a number of long-time ILM staffers, specialized in creating visual effects using physical assets, moved over to the new company which included among others Robert Hill, Patricia Rose Duignan, Sean Casey, and Steve Gawley.

Since separating from the LucasFilm family in 2006, Kerner has worked on such films as Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End (which featured Lee Arenberg and Greg Ellis), Evan Almighty (which starred Jimmy Bennett), Transformers (written by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci), and Paramount Pictures' The Spiderwick Chronicles and Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. More recent films include Eagle Eye (executive produced by Kurtzman and Orci), Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, Terminator Salvation (starring Anton Yelchin), and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (again written by Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci).

In August of 2009 Eric Edmeades acquired a controlling interest in the group and assumed the role of CEO, but was forced to close down the company two years later, on 31 August 2011. Edmeades cited as reasons for the closure a combination of fatal debt accumulation and "disingenuous allegations of mismanagement" that cost the company the confidence of its largest customer, which happened to be ILM. Never been profitable in the first place, this was particularly painful as Edmeades had managed to turn around the fortunes of the company when he took over the reigns of the company in 2009. [2]

Parent company

KernerFX is the VFX division of The Kerner Group which provides a variety of other services including the manufacture of life-like dummies for training military medics, 3D camera rigs, 3D viewing technology and concert walls and software products including FrameFree; a program that makes user generated 3D content a reality.

Lore

When ILM first moved into the San Rafael location over 30 years ago there was a door marked "Kerner Optical." Lucas opted to leave this sign in place and commented, later, on the KERNER CO sign in front of the property explaining that it was there to keep the fans from snooping through the property and garbage bins. ILM operated as "Kerner Optical" for over thirty years and the new management opted to keep that name as a tribute to ILM's legacy.

Kerner's Star Trek crew

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