Building Immersive Experiences with Alex Coulombe Ep 30

Designer, developer, and educator, Alex Coulombe is the CEO of Heavenue, a new high-fidelity cloud platform to connect performers with audiences across the metaverse. He also runs Agile Lens: Immersive Design, the award winning XR creative studio.

Alex has always had a passion for purposing emerging technology for creative visions. In 2010 he graduated from Syracuse University with a B. Arch (and Drama minor!) and after working for several architecture firms, when the Oculus DK1 hit the market, immersive tech became his focus. In 2013 while at the theatre planning consultancy Fisher Dachs Associates, he pioneered the world’s first use of VR for accurately testing sightlines and adjusting room design based on the results. Other early immersive creations include an equipment clearance checker for Hudson Yards’ The Shed, a projection mapping tool for Bravo Media and The Late Show with Stephen Colbert, and design mockups for the Park Avenue Armory’s production of Kenneth Branagh’s Macbeth. His work in highly-custom solutions grew and culminated in the formation of Agile Lens.

Recent architecture projects include David Geffen Hall, Brockman Hall for Opera, the Statue of Liberty Museum, and the Yale Schwarzman Center.

Recent theatre collaborations include the award-winning ghost speed-dating experience Ghosted AR, the Venice Film Festival live VR performance, Loveseat, and the ongoing OnBoard XR One Act Festival. By early 2021, Alex began to focus in earnest building a platform to serve the needs of performing artists in virtual space, and Heavenue was born. The first use of Heavenue was a collaboration with Actors Theatre of Louisville on Scrooge’s Ghost Encounter. The show included actor Ari Tarr performing live in performance capture equipment for audiences around the world engaged in a shared Unreal Engine scene through Meta Quest VR headsets in December 2021. The latest show is a reinterpretation of Chekhov’s The Cherry Orchard, The Orchard, which opened June 7. Learn more at

A rising thought leader, Alex and his work features in conferences around the world. He taught VR performance at NYU Tisch, Unity3D at the Syracuse University School of Architecture, and currently teaches Unreal Engine as an authorized partner of Epic Games. Alex has helped organize such events as the RealTime Conference, TCG National Conference, and the new 5th Wall Forum.


Highlights of the Episode:

0:00 Introduction

2:29 Alex's story

5:32 5 year program

7:24 Transitioning

12:51 Working in different environments

16:24 Development kit skills and programming

20:44 Advice for learning intimidating skills

24:21 Alex's company

29:16 Cloud computing and pixel streaming

34:07 What made Alex excited about Unreal Engine

41:00 VR and ARs in the future

44:01 Implant of hardwares

45:34 Improvements in metahumans

50:50 Types of theater would or wouldnt work

55:46 Alex's podcast

57:42 What is Alex excited about the future

59:28 AI's involvement in art


“ It's really good to have a goal, to have a particular experience that you want to create. “

- Alex Coulombe

“You're gonna find something in that film that really excites you and you're gonna have those deadlines. And by the end of that process, you're gonna probably come out with something that's pretty impressive. And you might not have even thought that you could do that in such a short amount of”- Alex Coulombe

“I hear people say like I never wanna be a cyborg and it's like, we're kind of already cyborgs.

We rely on devices so much already.”- Alex Coulombe on hardware implants

“And I want as many people in the world to be able to have art affect them in that kind of way. And a lot of that accessibility and a lot of that democratization will come from having the technology, get to a point where it's ubiquitous and cheap and fast enough and frictionless enough that you can do something like put on sunglasses and instantly feel like you are having an experience like that.”- Alex Coulombe

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