Monday, September 5th, 2011 Posted by Jim Thacker

Kerner Optical closes: the end of an era in SFX

The practical side of The Force: as part of ILM, Kerner Optical worked on all six Star Wars movies.

Kerner Optical has closed its doors, putting a full stop to Hollywood’s golden age of practical effects.

The studio, originally a division of Industrial Light & Magic, worked on over 250 movies over its 30-plus-year career, including the original Star Trek and Indiana Jones trilogies.

With the 2000s seeing more and more productions move from miniatures to CG, the physical effects market began to shrink. Although Kerner Optical continued to contribute sequences to movies including Star Trek and Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, work began to dry up.

The company, loss-making since 2006, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this year.

In an official letter posted on the company’s home page, managing partner Ed Edmeades pays tribute to the staff, laying the blame for Kerner Optical’s closure on its burden of debt and the behaviour of a key creditor – a sad ending to the story of one of Hollywood’s truly iconic companies.

Kerner Optical’s sister companies, including camera manufacturer Kerner 3D Technologies remain extant.

Read Eric Edmeades’s open letter

Read a good article on Kerner Optical’s work by fxguide