Ex-ILM, Kerner employees join in San Rafael

Former employees of Industrial Light & Magic and the failed Kerner Optical have banded together to form a new practical effects company, 32Ten Studios.

Name of the new outfit comes from the location: 3210 Kerner Blvd. in San Rafael, Calif. Address was previously home to Kerner Optical, and before that was the longtime location of Industrial Light & Magic. ILM left the location when it spun off its model shop and moved its digital vfx operation to a new HQ in San Francisco’s Presidio.

Tim Partridge, who was most recently at Kerner Optical overseeing practical effects and 3D, will be president of the new entity. He said the entity is “completely employee owned, and the intention is to keep it that way.”

Greg Maloney is chief operating officer. Greg Beaumont is head of the camera engineering department. Head of IT is Scott Smith. Geoff Heron (“Terminator Salvation”) is practical f/x supervisor.

They are the only permanent staff right now; company will ramp up staff as it gets work, but Partidge told Variety “I need to keep it lean and mean. I’m going to keep the overhead to a minimum while employing as many people as possible.

The core facility for 32Ten Studios is a soundstage 81 feet wide by 83 feet deep, with a giant greenscreen. Company is already in talks to provide practical effects on two projects. Unlike its predecessor, Kerner Optical, it will offer digital visual effects as well as practical f/x and model/minature f/x.

Kerner Optical began as ILM’s original models and miniatures shop, the unit that created the effects for the original Star Wars pictures and other classic titles before computer graphics took over most f/x work.

After ILM spun it off, Kerner tried a series of high-tech initiatives, but it failed last year amid recriminations among its current and former owners — who included a convicted pyramid scheme operator — and accusations of mismanagement and criminality. (Daily Variety, Sept. 30, 2011)

Company will bid for commercials, features, television, new media and any other available work.

“It is all about the community,” said Partridge. “I’ve been up in that area now for two years and got to know the workers who do this stuff. And there really is a sense of Northern California in the film industry. It lacks a hub and I’m hoping we can become that hub, attracting other companies to that complex.

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