With over 17 years in the audio-visual Industry, Denzil Smith is one of South Africa’s finest AV engineers. An operation manager at Johannesburg audio-visual rental company, AV Systems, Smith has worked on all kinds of AV jobs, locally and internationally. He won the coveted Best Technical Production Services Association (TPSA) award for Best AV Engineer, and is also one of the most nominated AV engineers at the awards (having been nominated every year for Best AV Engineer since the TPSA Awards were launched).
We recently sat down with Smith to talk about his career and other industry matters.

How did you get into the AV industry?

Smith: I started out in the audio industry. In high school I used to work part time for Macs Music and when I matriculated they gave me a permanent job. At the company I gained a lot of experience in sound engineering, audio equipment repairs and rigging. After a few years I left Macs Music to join Sound Hire, where I worked closely with bands.

How did you end up at AV Systems?

Smith: I met Alvaro Rodrigues (AV Systems owner) during the Roxette tour, at that time he had just started AV Systems. We talked about possible collaborations and after the Phil Collins tour I decided to join AV Systems. The company was still very small, with a small office in Doornfontein and I was its very first employee.

You talked about technology. Where do you see the AV industry in the next five years?

Smith: It’s difficult to say because it’s a very fast-moving industry but I think we are going to see more of LED products. These days everyone prefers full HD presentations so I think projectors will slowly become a thing of the past.

Is that a good thing?

Smith: Yes and no. The good thing about LED is that it offers the best overall quality but the negative side is that it is still very expensive.

OK. What has been your best job so far?

Smith: For many years I have done presentations for renowned South African businessman Sol Kerzner. He has taken me all over the world for these jobs and it’s always an honour to work with him.

What sort of invention would make your job much easier?

Smith: Wireless power. Because at the moment you can do pretty much everything wirelessly but you always need electricity.

What’s your favourite piece of equipment?

Smith: The digiLED 6mm pixel pitch LED video screen – it’s so versatile and the quality is unbelievable.

Worst piece of equipment?

Smith: The 1 ton motor – it’s so heavy and unfortunately you have to use it on most functions.

What do you love about your job?

Smith: When I started I used to love to operate the shows but now I enjoy the design and pre-production side more. I enjoy working at venues that have nothing interesting and transforming them into something unimaginable.

Anything you hate about your job?

Smith: Load outs and untidy cables.

What would you say is the most important thing that every person entering the industry must know?

Smith: You must have a passion for technology. I always say that if you can’t set up your TV at home with your DSTV and DVD player then this industry is not for you. If you like a social life then stay clear!

And do you think there are opportunities for young people in the local AV industry?

Smith: Yes. There is a huge demand for young people in the local AV industry. Most youngsters are taking up audio engineering and the majority of AV engineers in South Africa are over 30 years old. So opportunities are certainly there for young people.

What are you up to when you are not working?

Smith: I am an advanced driving instructor for Mercedes Benz and I have been a police reservist since 1996. So in my spare time I am either instructing or out on the streets fighting crime.

Great stuff! What is your holiday destination of choice?

Smith: I love wildlife and the bush, with no electricity or cell phone networks.