Based in Marin, California, The Kerner Group, the 30-year home to George Lucas’s original Industrial Light and Magic (ILM), has restructured to focus on 3D stereoscopic production. The company was acquired a year ago by entrepreneur Eric Edmeades, and is the result of a year-long analysis and R&D efforts by new senior management aimed at driving the Kerner brand forward. Concurrent with this anniversary, The Kerner Group has launched a number of new brands with services available to its diverse array of clients.
The “New Kerner” is now positioned to be a leader in the area of 3-D production and technological expertise, with facilities, camera rigs and expertise that afford unparalleled opportunities to content creators across the entire media spectrum, said Eric Edmeades, CEO, Majority Owner, and Tim Partridge, President, The Kerner Group.
“When I stepped in the door 18 months ago, I found an unbelievable den of creativity and technological skills,” says Edmeades. “The guys here have been responsible for making George Lucas’ dreams come true. The challenge was deciding what we wanted to focus our energies on.”
Stereoscopic 3D production was a natural for The Kerner Group which has a long history of developing optical technologies and motion control engineering. For over 30 years, the Kerner name has been associated with ground-breaking special effects and optical technology, including the company’s development of the “Empire Camera,” super high-speed camera using the Vistavision format for The Empire Strikes Back. That camera–still in use today—is available only through The Kerner Group.
“When I first acquired the business, a few of my friends thought 3D is just a fad and that I might be a bit crazy,” says Edmeades. “Now most people realize we’re headed in the right direction. The most exciting thing is that we’ve gone into production with our Kernercam 3D rigs. The timing is right. Frankly, there is a greater demand than supply for 3D camera rigs.”
In addition to 3D production, Kerner also has a separate business unit, Kerner 3D Technologies, that focuses on the research and development of better 3D filmmaking tools. That dates back to 2006, shortly after George Lucas relocated ILM to a new site, the Kerner team turned toward the development of new 3D technologies. Today, Kerner 3D Technologies develops and offers a range of camera rigs for easy and accurate capture of 3D content. The Kernercam 3D capture systems are beam-splitter rigs of varying sizes, available for broadcast or cinematic applications.
The Kernercam 3D system was used in the production of actor David Arquette’s short 3D film, The Butler’s In Love, which will open the 6th Annual HollyShorts Film Festival, August 5, at the Director’s Guild of America Theatre in Los Angeles. The Butler’s In Love, directed by Arquette, features an all star cast including Thomas Jane (HBO’s Hung), Elizabeth Berkley (CSI Miami), and Arquette, himself. “”The project is unique because when the team was asked if they’d do it, they said they would but that they wanted to include fire, glass and other features that show off things that were considered, at the time, difficult to do in 3D,” says Edmeades.
Kerner 3D Technologies also recently delivered two Kernercam 3D systems to major Japanese broadcaster NHK Cosmomedia America, Inc., where they are being used for sports and entertainment programming. Additionally, Kerner has delivered one 3D system to the Emily Carr University of Art and Design, based in Vancouver.
The Kerner Group’s other new brands are KernerFX and Kerner Studios. KernerFX provides realistic physical effects to the film, television, and commercial production industries. Previously the physical effects department of Industrial Light and Magic, KernerFX today is a leading provider of this unique visual imagery. Recent credits including FX contributions to Terminator Salvation (for which the company earned a Visual Effects Society Award nomination), the 2009 version of J.J. Abrams’ Star Trek, and Ironman II.Specialties include elements (wind, fire, water, smoke, dust, etc.); pyrotechnics; scenes of destruction; the design and production of models, and practical miniature effects of all scales.
Home to ILM for thirty years, Kerner Studios, as a facility, offers producers of television, film, commercial, music video, or corporate productions, a rare combination of state-of-the-art production space, equipment, personnel skills, and decades of experience. Kerner Studios houses several fully equipped (indoor and outdoor) stages, camera (2D and 3D) equipment, and experienced talent.
The Kerner Group has also launched other new service divisions, including those involved with Commercial Production, Model and Miniature Design for non-entertainment clients, Corporate & Government Research, and the Production of Original 3D Film and Television projects.
At the head of Kerner Group is Edmeades, who was previously the co-founder of The ITR Group, a mobile computing and wireless networking firm based in England. After the ITR Group was sold to private buyers in 2006, Edmeades hired Tim Partridge as President of The Kerner Group. Before Kerner, Partridge was a key executive at Dolby Laboratories where, for over 20 years, where he worked as a Dolby surround sound consultant on over 100 films, including Goldeneye, Highlander, Shadowlands, Willow, Absolute Beginners, and The Fisher King.
Key personnel within The Kerner Group include Brian Gernand, Senior Creative Director who oversees the newly formed KernerFX unit; Greg Beaumont, Engineer, Kerner 3D Technologies unit; Geoff Heron: Practical Effects Supervisor; and Rose Duignan, Executive Producer, The Kerner Group.
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