Monday, August 27, 2007

Marin Fiesta 1: Kerner Optical First Anniversary

There is a huge diaspora in the Bay Area of former Industrial Light & Magic (ILM) visual effects employees who are now working for other companies such as Pixar in Emeryville, The Orphanage in San Francisco, and Electronic Arts in Redwood City.

Just before George Lucas consolidated his digital workers into the new San Francisco Presidio campus a couple of years ago, there were not only massive layoffs from ILM but quite a number of longtime veterans of the company decided to stay put in Marin County rather than make the move.

The legendary ILM model shop, for instance, was never slated to be part of the new digital campus, and so the practical wizards there banded together and helped to form a new company, Kerner Optical (click here for their website), housing it in the old offices and soundstages in San Rafael that had been home to ILM for decades.

Last Friday they held a one-year anniversary party for about 800 people...

...that was an even mix of prospective clients, old friends and colleagues.

Every time you turned around there was another legendary pioneer in the visual effects industry...

...winding their way through model ships...

...and wonderful demonstrations of fancy equipment and monster blue screens.

According to a Society of Digital Artists article, "Mark Anderson (pictured above) worked at ILM for eighteen years beginning as a modelmaker and most recently as director of physical production. Yuska Siuicki is owner of Technology Application Specialists with twelve years of experience in stereoscopic 3D hardware and software development for film production, broadcast and gaming. Kevin Duncan is a Denver businessman who is supporting the purchase of Kerner Optical from ILM." (Click here for the whole article.)

The party was wonderful, with homemade food and a let's-put-on-a-show-in-the-barn spirit which felt like a polar opposite to Industrial Light & Magic's rather industrial aura.

May Kerner Optical thrive and prosper.

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