Alan Melikdjanian

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Alan Melikdjanian
Melikdjanian.JPG
Melikdjanian as Captain Disillusion – The Amaz!ng Meeting TAM9
Born (1980-04-13) April 13, 1980 (age 38)
Riga, Latvian SSR, USSR
(present day Latvia)
Residence South Florida, United States
Occupation Independent filmmaker
Years active 1984, 2001–present
YouTube information
Channel
Subscribers 846,000+
Total views 55 million+
Subscriber and view counts updated as of Sep 2, 2018.
Website

Alan Melikdjanian (/ˌmɛlɪɡˈniən/;[1] born April 13, 1980), also known by the alias Captain Disillusion, is a Latvian-born independent filmmaker. He is the founder of Amelik Entertainment, LLC, a South Florida-based video production company specializing in unique and inventive films, web series, commercials, and music videos.

Melikdjanian has been active in the founding of video-sharing sites Openfilm and Filmnet.com, and is the creator of the YouTube web-series Captain Disillusion, a comedic series of videos promoting critical thinking and skepticism, generally themed around disproving and explaining fantastical or supernatural viral videos.

He also regularly attended The Amaz!ng Meeting, an annual conference that focused on science, skepticism, and critical thinking, from 2008 to its final meeting in 2015.

Early life[edit]

Melikdjanian was born to Soviet-era circus performer parents. His father, Vilen, was a particularly well-known performer. He toured the Soviet Union with his parents until beginning school at age 6, at which time he would live with his grandmother in Riga. Melikdjanian is of Armenian and Russian descent.[2] During that time, Melikdjanian assumed he'd grow up to be a circus performer himself:

I thought I'd do magic, maybe. I'd get to know all the magicians. They'd show me little sleight-of-hand things, and I was all set to go that route when I was maybe 5, 6 years old.

In Riga, during the school year, Melikdjanian would spend most of his free time trying to copy the styles of Disney animators. During summer, he'd resume his circus life on the road.[3]

At the age of 4, Melikdjanian appeared (in scenes deleted) in the 1984 Russian film Shutki v storonu (Jokes Aside) though his image remained on the movie's poster.[4] At the age of 12, Melikdjanian and his family emigrated to the United States.

He attended high school at William H. Turner Tech, in Miami, and studied video production and 3-D animation. He continued to do so at the International Fine Arts College, now known as the Miami International University of Art & Design.[3]

He graduated from college with a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree in Film Production.[5]

Career[edit]

Early career, Amelik Entertainment, 2001–present[edit]

In 2001, Melikdjanian directed and composed the low-budget independent film The Realm about an introverted high school student who worries his teachers because he likes to write short stories full of violence and gore.

Also that year, Melikdjanian worked as an animator on the English-language, award-winning film Zelimo, a coming of age film that tells the story of a young Jewish farm boy who embarks on a journey from Russia to America in search of a better life.

Citizen Mavzik[edit]

Melikdjanian was the director, writer (with his father), editor, and composer of the 2006 direct-to-DVD Russian-language film Citizen Mavzik,[6] the story of a Russian immigrant family's assimilation into American culture. The film was produced by Vilalan Productions, named after Melikdjanian and his father Vilen.

The movie took three years to make, and first premiered at the Cinema Paradiso, in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. The film first streamed live on RTVi, on February 4, 2007. However, it aired during the Super Bowl. The same day, Melikdjanian posted a humorous video expressing his frustration to YouTube.[7]

Website founding[edit]

Melikdjanian is the co-founder and creative director of FilmNet.com,[8] and is the co-founder and chief creative officer of Openfilm. Both are intended as alternatives to popular video-sharing site YouTube, but for serious amateur filmmakers who "don't want to place their work alongside YouTube's mediocrities."[3][9][10]

In 2009, Melikdjanian founded his own video production company, Amelik Entertainment, LLC, an abbreviation of what he has called his 'unpronouncable' last name. The company is involved in the pre-production, filming, and post-production of various independent films, music videos, commercials, etc., and showcases its efforts on its official website.

Captain Disillusion, 2007–present[edit]

Captain Disillusion
Genre Education
Comedy
Created by Alan Melikdjanian
Presented by Alan Melikdjanian
Voices of Alan Melikdjanian,
Penn Jillette[11] (1 episode)
Country of origin United States
Original language(s) English
No. of episodes Regular – 39
Quick D – 16
Specials – 1 (list of episodes)
Production
Editor(s) Alan Melikdjanian
Running time Varies, usually 4 – 7 minutes per episode
Release
Original network YouTube
Original release 2008 (2008) – present

He publishes his Captain Disillusion videos on his eponymous YouTube channel, which as of August 2018 has over 800,000 subscribers and 53 million views.[12][13] On his channel, he debunks, amongst other things, viral and paranormal "hoax" videos, doing so humorously, and with a heavy focus on visual effects.[14] He edits his videos using various software programs beginning with Avid Media Composer followed by Adobe After Effects, Blender, and Da Vinci Resolve.[15]

In his videos, he wears a vintage 1980s tracksuit, and the skin of the lower part of his face is covered in silvery paint.[3] He later introduced a sidekick, "Mr Flare", also voiced by Melikdjanian.[citation needed]

Melikdjanian described how he designed his superhero costume:

When it came time to visualize him I just thought what do I have at hand? What can grab people's attention? And really, because it's supposed to be a superhero, what haven't we seen before? What do I have at my disposal that I can actually pull off in terms of attire and make-up? And that's what I had. I got some of this chrome colored make-up at the local party store and I had all those clothes and I would've done my whole face but it's too much work. It works out in terms of illusion revealing reality, and... which one's the reality?[16]

Format[edit]

Firstly, the Captain addresses the audience. A typical introduction to his videos is Hey, kids, Captain D here. Secondly, he goes on to show a popular video, often a paranormal or viral video which is 'too good to be true.' Thirdly, he reviews the footage, utilizing his experience with digital editing, to 'break down' the video and show how the end result was accomplished. He also likes to recreate effects from the videos he debunks, often incorporating this into episodes.[17]

He ends each video with his motto: "Love with your heart. Use your head for everything else."[3] His videos often conclude with a humorous ending sequence, which occasionally relates with the preceding video.

Quick D[edit]

In addition to his regular Captain Disillusion series, Melikdjanian uploads 'Quick D' episodes, which he describes as "Shorter, crisper 'debunks' that will be posted more frequently than regular episodes (which will still continue as well)."

DVD[edit]

In 2011, Melikdjanian released a DVD of his Captain Disillusion series, entitled Captain Disillusion – Fame Curve Collection. It contains all 16 episodes remastered with optional commentary and additional bonus features. He debuted it at TAM9, and later made it available for purchase online.[18] The money made from the DVD will go towards future episodes.

Recognition[edit]

His work has gained recognition from The Huffington Post,[19] Kotaku,[20] Russian TV International, Phil Plait,[21] the James Randi Educational Foundation,[22] Fortean Times,[23] Home Media Magazine,[9] and Sun Sentinel,[24] among others. He has also received thanks from people for debunking videos they had shared.[17]

Interviews[edit]

Melikdjanian performing as Captain Disillusion's assistant at QED 2016

In 2008, during an interview for The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe, he describes Captain Disillusion as a YouTube web series that tackles paranormal and illusion uploaded by others on YouTube.[25] He started this effort as a blog entry on Myspace but later saw these items as ready made scripts for short videos. He notes that Penn & Teller were instrumental to his current interest and eventually found the skeptical movement involved in similar work. He finds that his followers like to learn about the illusions. It is not his intent to spoil legitimate entertainment or spoil a current performers work. His intent in showing how video illusions are created is to clear up misconceptions. Melikdjanian describes the basis for Openfilm.com briefly, saying it "was formed for film makers. The goal is to provide higher quality product and a group of serious content creators."

During an interview for The Skeptic Zone, in 2010, he describes Captain Disillusion as a superhero.[16] and in a following 2011 interview, he describes his work as Captain Disillusion is done "in the maximum fun way possible".[26] He describes his work with James Randi, Randi calling him to participate in The Amaz!ng Meeting and his video work with Randi in a later project. During an interview by Susan Gerbic for Skeptical Inquirer, he states "I think it's best to focus on what you know—something you're already an expert on outside of skepticism—and explore the ways in which it's connected to skepticism. With Captain Disillusion I connected a random thing—visual effects—to skepticism in a way that people seem to find engaging. I'm sure that can be done with many other fields in different ways."[27]

In a 2017 interview with Richard Saunders from The Skeptic Zone, he said, when talking about the video effects editing process that "You know, the tools change but the methods really don't. It's all about making things look questionable and kinda crappy and low quality and then you can pretty much get away with anything". In replying to a follow up question regarding believing what you see on the internet he said "When I started out, people just kinda believed everything, it was like shooting fish in a barrel, but these days people are just really asking me "is this fake?", "is this fake?", "is this fake?" and half the stuff they show me is just you know, a juggler juggling a lot of balls. They can't conceive that that could be real, people just don't believe anything anymore. I guess that's good for me because I get to explain lots of stuff but I wish people could finally strike that balance where they're not too credulous but they also know not to just dismiss everything out of hand".[28]

Credits[edit]

Filmography[edit]

Year Title Role Notes
1984 Shutki v storonu actor Russian for Jokes Aside (scenes deleted)
2001 The Realm director, composer
The Monster Man editor
Zelimo animator Directed by Aleks Rosenberg,
Won—WorldFest-Houston Gold Special Jury Award for Best Feature
2002 Sin neudachnika editor[29] (Television film) Russian-language.
2006 Citizen Mavzik director, writer, editor, composer (DVD) Co-written with father, Vilen. Produced by Vilalan Productions.
Available in Russian and English.
2008 Director VFX artist Directed by Aleks Rosenberg
Starring American rapper Prodigal Sunn.
2010 Crimefighters VFX artist, sound editor
2013 Whoops! digital effects artist

Additional work[edit]

  • Still Life (2009) (short) (steadicam operator)
  • The Shift (2013) (thanks) Starring Danny Glover

Television / web series[edit]

Year Title As Notes
2007–present Captain Disillusion Captain Disillusion
Mr Flare (voice)
(Web series) Also creator.
2011 Community (TV series) Pistol Patty (voice) Episode: "A Fistful of Paintballs"[citation needed]
2012 MSNBC's Caught on Camera Himself – Expert Episode: "Viral Videos: Do You Believe?"[citation needed]

References[edit]

  1. ^ "A Patreonizing Announcement" on YouTube
  2. ^ "Captain Disillusion's Escape From the USSR". H3 Podcast. h3h3productions. February 10, 2018. Archived from the original on June 18, 2018. Retrieved February 11, 2018 – via YouTube. 
  3. ^ a b c d e Thorp, Brandon K. (December 24, 2009). "South Florida superhero Captain Disillusion talks ghosts, superpowers, and skepticism". Miami New Times. Archived from the original on February 1, 2014. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  4. ^ "Alan Melikdjanian". IMDb. Archived from the original on 2016-03-23. 
  5. ^ Melikdjanian, Alan. "About Amelik". Amelik.com. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  6. ^ "Films – Citizen Mavzik". Amelik. Archived from the original on December 26, 2013. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  7. ^ Amelik. "Movie vs. Superbowl". Archived from the original on March 7, 2016. Retrieved January 22, 2015 – via YouTube. 
  8. ^ Our Team Archived 2013-12-13 at the Wayback Machine., FilmNet.com
  9. ^ a b Gil, Billy (January 29, 2009). "Openfilm Gives Cash Reward to Filmmakers". Home Media Magazine. Archived from the original on March 4, 2016. Retrieved April 2, 2016. 
  10. ^ Lewin, Elizabeth (January 29, 2009). "Openfilm Rewarding $500 to Indie Filmmakers". Podcasting News. Archived from the original on December 11, 2013. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  11. ^ CD (June 5, 2010). "Off Screen". Captain Disillusion. Archived from the original on October 6, 2011. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  12. ^ "Captain Disillusion: About". Archived from the original on June 23, 2017. Retrieved January 8, 2017 – via YouTube. 
  13. ^ Walters, Christian (September 2012). "Skepticism in the Video Box". Skeptical Inquirer: 34. 
  14. ^ Farley, Tim. "Skepticism via YouTube". Skeptical Inquirer. Archived from the original on April 7, 2014. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  15. ^ Captain Disillusion. "Heroic Feats of YouTube Debunkery – Live at QED 2016". Archived from the original on January 3, 2017. Retrieved November 1, 2016 – via YouTube. 
  16. ^ a b Richard Saunders (August 13, 2010). "The Skeptic Zone #95" (Podcast). The Skeptic Zone. Archived from the original on February 2, 2014. Retrieved January 14, 2014. 
  17. ^ a b Richard Saunders (10 December 2017). "The Skeptic Zone #477" (Podcast). The Skeptic Zone. Archived from the original on 17 January 2018. Retrieved 1 February 2018. 
  18. ^ "Captain Disillusion: Fame Curve Collection". IMDb. 14 July 2011. Archived from the original on 11 February 2017. 
  19. ^ Barness, Sarah (November 8, 2013). "WATCH Captain Disillusion Debunk The Viral Ping Pong Knife Act". The Huffington Post. Archived from the original on November 16, 2013. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  20. ^ Luke, Plunkett (November 8, 2013). "Surprise, Viral YouTube Smash Is A Total Fake". Kotaku.com. Archived from the original on February 5, 2014. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  21. ^ Plait, Phil (June 19, 2009). "Captain Disillusion is Amazing". Bad Astronomy. Discover. Archived from the original on October 20, 2012. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  22. ^ Wagg, Jeff (February 28, 2008). "Captain Disillusion – Fire Angel Debunk". Latest JREF news. James Randi Educational Foundation. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  23. ^ "'Captain Disillusion.'". Fortean Times. Archived from the original on January 21, 2013. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  24. ^ Ratterman, David (January 23, 2002). "Soviet Block Party". Sun Sentinel. Archived from the original on September 15, 2012. Retrieved January 27, 2014. 
  25. ^ "Captain Disillusion – Skeptic's Guide #160". The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe. August 13, 2008. Archived from the original on December 22, 2013. Retrieved January 11, 2014. 
  26. ^ Richard Saunders (August 6, 2011). "The Skeptic Zone #146" (Podcast). The Skeptic Zone. Archived from the original on February 20, 2014. Retrieved January 24, 2014. 
  27. ^ Gerbic, Susan (July 18, 2016). "The Man Behind the Makeup: An Interview with Captain Disillusion – CSI". www.csicop.org. Skeptical Inquirer. Archived from the original on July 19, 2016. Retrieved July 20, 2016. 
  28. ^ Saunders, Richard. "The Skeptic Zone #477 - 10.Dec.2017". The Skeptic Zone. Archived from the original (Podcast) on 17 April 2018. Retrieved 17 April 2018. 
  29. ^ "Full Cast & Crew of Sin neudachnika". IMDB. Archived from the original on July 6, 2018. Retrieved February 18, 2018. 

External links[edit]