I was born in 1954, in Hamilton, Ontario, Canada — a small city noted for it’s steel production. My father was a police officer who worked hard to save money for my university tuition, and realized that I had a natural affinity to teach myself how to do things – one of them was that I taught myself how to play a wide variety of musical instruments. Upon graduating high school, I took a leave from public education for 3 years, and traveled Canada extensively as a professional musician playing in night clubs. For me it was a wonderful way to get out and see the beauty of nature, explore remote quaint and cozy mining towns, and meet the friendly first nations people of Canada that would later shape my life.
In 1974 at the age of 20, instead of going to university, I decided to plant my roots in Toronto, the media capital of Canada. With the help of my father, we invested the university tuition towards the construction of a professional modern 8-track music recording studio, with the intent on offering my creative music production services to others.
It was here that I produced one record in 1978 titled “Robert Connolly Plateau” in which I play keyboards (Minimoog, Hammond B3, Mellowtron), bass, and guitar. It was released independently as a progressive conceptual “Chariots of the Gods” album that comes complete with a comic book. Since it’s release almost 40 years ago, it has become a collectors item for those that follow early progressive prog-rock themed music. Instead of using the recording studio to develop my career as a performing music recording artist, I decided to focus my attention in helping other musicians as their engineer, co-writer, music producer or artist manager.
With the introduction of the Apple Macintosh computer, my self-taught attitude allowed me to embrace computer MIDI music. With the use of digital audio samples and MIDI keyboards, I began creating entire music albums and movie soundtracks on my Mac.
As the Mac’s computer processing speed increased, I transitioned to using the Mac as a digital video workstation for broadcast television production. With the introduction of MTV, I began producing short TV commercials, music videos, and long-format music concert specials. As the cost of making movies became less expensive by the introduction of new technology, I became an expert in post-production for low budget music movies. It was at this time I met my companion and partner who was a travel television show host. With the music industry in flux, it was the ideal time to use my experience with music to create meaningful, cutting edge, thought provoking social documentaries that hopefully could change the world for the better.
Together we traveled the world extensively for over 20 years to produce “Passport to Adventure” and “Timeless Places.” They dealt with the unexplained mysteries of the world, and provided information to the viewer as to how to visit the places mentioned in the program. The subject matter included lost technology and civilizations, pyramids, comparative religions, unexplained architecture, and psychic phenomena. The show was financially successful for the broadcasters, airing reruns for 8 years, from 1996 to 2002 in the US on PBS, as well as in Canada on Vision TV, The Life Channel, The Learning Channel, and CTV Travel.
While we were collecting footage for our travel series, we shot a lot of photography on 35mm film. When the PhotoCD format was invented by Kodak, a CD manufacturer asked us to create the first royalty free images of the world on CD-ROM that could be bundled with new computers and sold in stores. That product became known as “WorldPhoto Essentials Image Library” and millions of copies where sold all over the world.
The Search For Ancient Wisdom CD-ROM
My experience with the Apple Macintosh for desktop publishing, and corporate television production introduced me to a new form of media that was interactive. It started with a touch-screen kiosk, which I adapted the form so that it could be used on CD-ROM, and eventually in home computers. Using still pictures and digital video clips from our travels around the world, we selected content that was deemed to be too controversial for public broadcasters to create an interactive CD-ROM that could be sold in book stores.
At that time I was a freelance technical journalist and consultant for Apple Computer specializing in digital video and desktop publishing workflows. I introduced the project to the Apple’s content managers looking for content to be included with new Macintosh computers that had CD-ROM drives. Apple ended up licensing the CD-ROM, called it “The Search For Ancient Wisdom” and gave the CD away free to all K-12 schools who purchased a new Macintosh computer with a CD-ROM drive. It was one of the very first interactive commercial CD-ROM ever produced. The Search for Ancient Wisdom was also licensed for playback on Windows computers, and sold in all major book stores.
When high speed internet access became affordable to the home user, I decided to abandon the CD-ROM delivery format to develop online initiatives. I received the very first grant from Bell Canada’s Bell Fund, and several additional grants to develop and produce free broadband video programming for the internet. One-hour TV specials called Virtual Europe and Virtual Canada were produced for The Canadian Learning Channel. When the programs aired, they directed viewers to re-experience the travel destinations online in video, and as a downloadable eBook with links to online video.
Books, eBooks and Magazine Articles
I have extensive experience writing for trade publications that feature Macintosh print media workflows. I was hired by Linotype to create desktop publishing training videos, because of my experience as a computer systems integrator with their laser image-setter. Here, I was introduced to an early build of Adobe Acrobat from Adobe Computer Systems, who wanted me to test it for inclusion in the videos. Adobe told me of their long term goals to eventually replace print materials with interactive Adobe PDF files, and would provide me with all of the expertise to create compelling interactive training using Adobe PDF.
So began my long-time affiliation with Adobe as an Interactive PDF Evangelist, which took me all over North America to speak at many large conventions. I started a new company called pdfPictures to provide services for corporate clients with interactive books, magazines, and brochures to compliment their website offerings.
My first book for Pearson Publishing was a print book titled Dynamic Media – Music, Video, Animation, and the Web in Adobe PDF. According to Pearson Publishing’s press release, this book was the first of its kind, offering an interactive rich media PDF on a CD-ROM which was bundled with the book.
The Dynamic Media print book and eBook was first published in 2007. It presented a future where printed books would be replaced by interactive eBooks using a wide variety of rich media, such as interactive animations, audio, and video. Dynamic Media has been adopted as an educational reference text book by public and private art media schools all over the world.
Bob Connolly has pushed Adobe’s technologies to the limit. His rich-media PDF examples speaks for his talent and his willingness to share his knowledge makes him stand out in this competitive market.Noha Edell, Senior Business Development Manager, Adobe Systems
The Future of Education
When I wrote Dynamic Media, the iPad was just being introduced to the world by an enthusiastic Steve Jobs, who felt Apple Computer should lead the way in education. Steve felt text books were cumbersome and out of date; they no longer engaged the students, and needed to be interactive and entertaining, like the video games they had been raised on. I couldn’t agree enough with Jobs. Educators need to realize that the internet has spawned a new generation of students that prefer to teach themselves on their own schedule. They embrace the internet, because it is interactive and engaging. However, the internet is a sea of misinformation too.
I feel that interactive eBooks like Apple offers, that feature audio, video, and animation, is the ideal way to teach students. You don’t have to be stuck at a desk with a WIFI connection, and can take the Rich Media inside the book outside into the park with you. Since an internet connection is not required to watch embedded videos, activating airplane mode saves battery life. Teachers can also have more control over internet access in the classroom. Schools don’t need to have wireless transmitters and receivers to be “always-on” and the RF (Radio Frequency) radiation can be reduced in the class room.
Educational content needs to be dynamic and engaging, and easily accessible. Bob Connolly’s interactive rich-media PDF files are perfect for educators to help their students succeed in the 21st century.Ali Hanyaloglu, Technical Evangelist for Acrobat in Education, Adobe systems
Current Works in Healthcare
My current project involves the production of a feature documentary, interactive companion textbook, and an informational website that deals with sound, light, and electromagnetic field therapy.
The feature documentary is called Tesla’s Medicine: Healing Fields. The film highlights the historical medical inventions of Nikola Tesla, and how they are being reintroduced into our healthcare systems as integrative medicine.
I am available for private consultation and public speaking events.