Captain Disillusion

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Alan Melikdjanian
Melikdjanian as Captain Disillusion at The Amazing Meeting in 2011
Personal information
BornAlan Melikdjanian
(1980-04-13) April 13, 1980 (age 40)
Riga, Latvian SSR, USSR
(present-day Latvia)
OccupationIndependent filmmaker, YouTuber
YouTube information
Also known asCaptain Disillusion
Years active2007–present
GenreVisual effects, comedy, education
Subscribers2.09 million
Total views185.33 million
YouTube Silver Play Button 2.svg 100,000 subscribers
YouTube Gold Play Button 2.svg 1,000,000 subscribers

Updated: November 12, 2020

Alan Melikdjanian (/ˌmɛlɪkˈniən/;[1] Russian: Алан Меликджанян; born April 13, 1980), known by the alias Captain Disillusion, is a Latvian-American independent filmmaker. Melikdjanian has been active in the founding of video-sharing sites Openfilm and, and is the creator of the YouTube webseries Captain Disillusion, a comedic series of videos promoting critical thinking and skepticism, mainly centering around the use of visual effects and video editing.

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] 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]

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.[4]

Career[edit] and OpenFilm[edit]

Melikdjanian was the co-founder and creative director of,[5] and was the co-founder and chief creative officer of Openfilm. Both were 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][6][7] OpenFilm closed in August 2015.

"Captain Disillusion" YouTube Channel, 2007–present[edit]

Captain Disillusion
Created byAlan Melikdjanian
Presented byAlan Melikdjanian
Voices ofAlan Melikdjanian,
Penn Jillette[8] (1 episode)
Country of originUnited States
Original language(s)English
No. of episodesRegular – 51
Quick D – 24
Specials – 9
Other – 15
Total – 99
Editor(s)Alan Melikdjanian
Running timeVaries, usually 4 – 7 minutes per episode
Original networkYouTube
Original release2007 (2007) –

His "Captain Disillusion" YouTube Channel has over 2.09 million subscribers and 178 million views (as of August 2020).[9][10] On the channel he debunks - amongst other things - viral and paranormal "hoax" videos, doing so humorously, and with a heavy focus on visual effects.[11] He edits his videos using various software programs beginning with Avid Media Composer followed by Adobe After Effects, Blender, and Da Vinci Resolve.[12]

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]

Melikdjanian described how he designed his superhero costume:[13]

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?


Firstly, the Captain addresses the audience. A typical introduction to his videos is "Greetings, children, Captain Disillusion here." Secondly, he goes on to show a popular video, often a paranormal or viral video which is 'too good to be true.' (He sometimes even uses humorous topics at the beginning of his videos to get people into the mood and then uses his wristband to lead him to talk about the real topic.) Thirdly, he reviews the footage, utilizing his expertise in 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.[14]

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.


In 2011, Melikdjanian released a DVD of his Captain Disillusion series, entitled Captain Disillusion – Fame Curve Collection. It contains the first 16 episodes remastered with optional commentary and additional bonus features. He debuted it at TAM9, and later made it available for purchase online.[15]


His work has gained recognition from The Huffington Post,[16] Kotaku,[17] Russian TV International, Phil Plait,[18] the James Randi Educational Foundation,[19] Fortean Times,[20] Home Media Magazine,[6] and Sun Sentinel,[21] among others. He has also received thanks from people for debunking videos they had shared.[14]


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 videos uploaded by others on YouTube.[22] 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 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.[13] and in a following 2011 interview, he describes his work as Captain Disillusion is done "in the maximum fun way possible".[23] 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."[24]

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".[25]



Year Title Role Notes
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[26] Russian for Son of a Loser (television film)
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)

Himself (as Alan)[27]

(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]


Year Award Category Result Refs
2019 11th Shorty Awards Best in Weird Won [28]


  1. ^ "A Patreonizing Announcement" on YouTube[dead link]
  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. ^ Melikdjanian, Alan. "About Amelik". Archived from the original on February 19, 2014. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
  5. ^ Our Team Archived December 13, 2013, at the Wayback Machine,
  6. ^ 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.
  7. ^ 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.
  8. ^ CD (June 5, 2010). "Off Screen". Captain Disillusion. Archived from the original on October 6, 2011. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
  9. ^ "Captain Disillusion: About". Archived from the original on June 23, 2017. Retrieved January 8, 2017 – via YouTube.
  10. ^ Walters, Christian (September 2012). "Skepticism in the Video Box". Skeptical Inquirer: 34.
  11. ^ Farley, Tim. "Skepticism via YouTube". Skeptical Inquirer. Archived from the original on April 7, 2014. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
  12. ^ 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.
  13. ^ 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.
  14. ^ a b Richard Saunders (December 10, 2017). "The Skeptic Zone #477" (Podcast). The Skeptic Zone. Archived from the original on January 17, 2018. Retrieved February 1, 2018.
  15. ^ "Captain Disillusion: Fame Curve Collection". IMDb. July 14, 2011. Archived from the original on February 11, 2017.
  16. ^ 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.
  17. ^ Luke, Plunkett (November 8, 2013). "Surprise, Viral YouTube Smash Is A Total Fake". Archived from the original on February 5, 2014. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
  18. ^ Plait, Phil (June 19, 2009). "Captain Disillusion is Amazing". Bad Astronomy. Discover. Archived from the original on October 20, 2012. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
  19. ^ Wagg, Jeff (February 28, 2008). "Captain Disillusion – Fire Angel Debunk". Latest JREF news. James Randi Educational Foundation. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
  20. ^ "Captain Disillusion". Fortean Times. Archived from the original on January 21, 2013. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
  21. ^ Ratterman, David (January 23, 2002). "Soviet Block Party". Sun Sentinel. Archived from the original on September 15, 2012. Retrieved January 27, 2014.
  22. ^ "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.
  23. ^ 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.
  24. ^ Gerbic, Susan (July 18, 2016). "The Man Behind the Makeup: An Interview with Captain Disillusion – CSI". Skeptical Inquirer. Archived from the original on July 19, 2016. Retrieved July 20, 2016.
  25. ^ Saunders, Richard. "The Skeptic Zone #477 - 10.Dec.2017". The Skeptic Zone. Archived from the original (Podcast) on April 17, 2018. Retrieved April 17, 2018.
  26. ^ "Full Cast & Crew of Sin neudachnika". IMDB. Archived from the original on July 6, 2018. Retrieved February 18, 2018.
  27. ^ "THE DEBUNKATHON". YouTube. April 8, 2020.
  28. ^ [1]

External links[edit]