Name: Tammuz Dubnov
Title: Founder and CEO
Location: San Diego, CA
Overtime: As a professional circus acrobat, aerialist, dancer, and choreographer, training is his main activity outside of work.
Why You Need To Know Him: “My first interaction with AV was from my artistic work as a dancer and technologist.”
Tammuz Dubnov’s background, a combination of acrobatic leaps and mathematical bounds, gelled early. Dubnov is the 24-year-old founder and CEO of Zuzor, a company that offers a software and platform solution that enables any digital display to support experiential content. Zuzor combines artificial intelligence, machine vision, and multimedia to bring new capabilities to the masses.
“I graduated from college at the age of 18 and started the company when I was 20, so I came into this without years of experience working in the industry.”
With an education in the hard sciences (he has a bachelor’s degree in theoretical mathematics from the University of California Berkeley and a master’s degree in artificial intelligence from UC San Diego) and a professional background in performance (he’s a dancer/choreographer and a circus aerialist), combined with his boundless curiosity about the world around him, Dubnov was poised to do something transformational in the space between art and science.
Inspired by the emergence of multimedia technology in entertainment, he concentrated his energy into finding a way to incorporate audiovisual technology into his performative work, much of which involved elaborate choreography synchronized to a video background. In Dubnov’s vision, the graphics would synchronize with the dancer’s movements instead of the other way around. Combining his programming skills with his passion for showmanship, he built a one-of-a-kind, interactive projection experience that became the foundation of Zuzor.
“My efforts to create a spectacular digital backdrop that reacted to and complemented my movements on stage in real time, by using machine vision to track my movement and gestures, led me to explore the world of audiovisual as the medium for that digital backdrop. By coming into the AV industry with this perspective—of audiovisual being an expressive medium to enhance my storytelling as a performer—I have a different view of the emotional impact one can achieve using this technology.”
He continues, “I initially founded the company to extend the technology I developed for my own performance work as a service to businesses at large. From there, it grew into a mission to democratize experiential media for the masses by creating a platform enabling anyone to deploy interactive environments easily and quickly.”
Once he launched Zuzor in 2017—he was still just 20 years old—the company started getting an overwhelming number of requests from museums, live events, hotels, nightclubs, and similar organizations that wanted to incorporate experiential AV into their workflows. “We realized that there are too many verticals for us to face, so we took a step back into the AV industry that services all of these industries. From there, I got more involved with AVIXA, InfoComm, ISE, and DSE, and became a thought leader around experiential AV, where I work to spread the knowledge and capability out to the rest of the industry.”
AV as a Community: Dubnov noted that he’s done a lot of learning on the job when it comes to the AV industry. He launched Zuzor at a young age, without having built up a Rolodex of relationships. “The AV industry at large is very much a relationship industry where people have known each other for years and worked with each other for years. Coming in as an outsider was a long process. Our solution to being underestimated, because of being perceivably young (where many in the industry are used to interfacing with an older age group) and an unknown entity, is putting together videos that we can immediately pull up on our phones to show our expertise and cutting-edge technology. If you’re in the AV world, you might as well use audiovisual as a part of your sales process.”
His current vocation aligns with his personal mission statement of “adding life into people’s lives,” he says. “AV is a powerful tool to create meaningful moments. With the prevalence of cellphones and apps monopolizing people’s attention, leading to increasingly connected lives that are yet increasingly lonely, meaningful moments are especially important. I’m passionate about AV and the AV industry because of the rich multisensory experiences you can create, and the impact those physical experiences can have on people’s lives.”
As is common in the industry, he didn’t succeed entirely on his own. “I’ve had numerous mentors as I’ve gone through the journey of creating a company. Each supported me through the challenges I faced during that phase of Zuzor’s growth. In the AV industry, I’ve had Jeff Greenberg from Hyperwall as a mentor. He explained to me the inner workings of the industry and the relationships between manufacturers, distributors, and integrators.”
Dubnov and his company are paying that mentorship forward. “We are starting to work with the AVIXA Foundation on providing access to skills education, career pathways, and valuable hands-on experiences to inspire the next generation of leaders in the AV industry.”
He makes a point of mentioning that he’s not done innovating. “What we’re doing in Zuzor thus far is cool, but we’re only getting started. As I mentioned, I work at the intersection of artificial intelligence, machine vision, and multimedia, and we have some amazing futuristic technology that we’re working on.”
While he couldn’t share specifics because the company is in the process of acquiring patents on those technologies, he adds, “On a separate note, we are still growing and looking for investors and working on an ambassador certification program for individuals who would like to become experts on experiential media.”
Learn more about Tammuz on this episode of AVNation.