Alan Melikdjanian as Captain Disillusion - The Amaz!ng Meeting TAM9
13 April 1980 |
Riga, Latvian SSR, USSR
(present day Latvia)
|Years active||1984, 2001– present|
Alan Melikdjanian (//; born 13 April 1980) 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.
Alan 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.
- 1 Early life
- 2 Career
- 3 Credits
- 4 See also
- 5 References
- 6 External links
Alan Melikdjanian was the son of 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. During that time, Alan 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.
At the age of 4, Alan appeared (in scenes deleted) in the 1984 Russian film 'Shutki v storonu' (Jokes Aside) though his image remained on the movie's poster. At the age of 12, Alan and his family immigrated 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.
Early career, Amelik Entertainment, 2001–present
In 2001, Alan 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, Alan 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.
Alan was the director, writer (with his father), editor and composer of the 2006 direct-to-DVD Russian-language film Citizen Mavzik, the story of a Russian immigrant family's assimilation into American culture. The film was produced by Vilalan Productions, named after Alan 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 4 February 2007. However, it aired during the Super Bowl. The same day, Melikdjanian posted a humorous video expressing his frustration to YouTube.
Melikdjanian is the co-founder and creative director of FilmNet.com, 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."
In 2009, Alan 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
|Created by||Alan Melikdjanian|
|Presented by||Alan Melikdjanian|
|Voices of||Alan Melikdjanian,
Penn Jillette (1 episode)
|Country of origin||United States|
|No. of episodes||Regular – 39
Quick D – 16
Specials – 1 (list of episodes)
|Running time||Varies, usually 4 – 7 minutes per episode|
|Original release||2008– present|
He is perhaps most widely known for his Captain Disillusion videos on his eponymous YouTube channel, which currently has over 501,000 subscribers and 32,000,000 views. On his channel, he debunks, amongst other things, viral and paranormal 'hoax' videos, doing so humorously, and with a heavy focus on visual effects. He edits his videos using various software programs beginning with Avid Media Composer followed by Adobe After Effects, Blender and Da Vinci Resolve.
In his videos, he wears a vintage 1980s tracksuit, and the skin of the lower part of his face is covered in silvery paint. He later introduced a sidekick, 'Mr Flare', also voiced by Melikdjanian.
Alan 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?||”|
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 ends each video with his motto: Love with your heart. Use your head for everything else. His videos often conclude with a humorous ending sequence, which occasionally relates with the preceding video.
In addition to his regular Captain Disillusion series, Alan 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)." There are currently 16 Quick D episodes.
In 2011, Alan 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. The money made from the DVD will go towards future episodes.
His work has gained recognition from The Huffington Post, Kotaku, Russian TV International, Phil Plait, the James Randi Educational Foundation, Fortean Times, Home Media Magazine and Sun Sentinel, among others.
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. 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. Alan also describes the basis for Openfilm.com briefly.
|“||Openfilm.com was formed for film makers. The goal is to provide higher quality product and a group of serious content creators.||”|
|“||...the character Captain Disillusion as a superhero to highlight the web comic. The makeup represents illusion revealing reality.||”|
and in a following 2011 interview, he describes his work as Captain Disillusion is done "in the maximum fun way possible[sic]". 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."
In October 2013, Melikdjanian became editor and director at ShowMobile, a company which produces a socially interactive web series for children.
|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||(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|
- Still Life (2009) (short) (steadicam operator)
- The Shift (2013) (thanks) Starring Danny Glover
Television / web series
|Captain Disillusion||Captain Disillusion
Mr Flare (voice)
|(Web series) Also creator.|
|2011||Community (TV series)||Pistol Patty (voice)||Episode: "A Fistful of Paintballs"|
|2012||MSNBC's Caught on Camera||Himself - Expert||Episode: "Viral Videos: Do You Believe?"|
- Thorp, Brandon K. (24 December 2009), "South Florida superhero Captain Disillusion talks ghosts, superpowers, and skepticism", Miami New Times, retrieved 27 January 2014
- Alan Melikdjanian IMDb Trivia
- "About Amelik". Amelik.com. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
- "Films – Citizen Mavzik". Amelik. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
- As stated by Melikdjanian in his video "Movie vs Superbowl."
- "Movie vs. Superbowl". Amelik. Retrieved 22 January 2015.
- Our Team, FilmNet.com
- Gil, Billy (29 January 2009). "Openfilm Gives Cash Reward to Filmmakers". Home Media Magazine. Retrieved 2 April 2016.
- Lewin, Elizabeth (29 January 2009). "Openfilm Rewarding $500 to Indie Filmmakers". Podcasting News. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
- CD (5 June 2010). "Off Screen". Captain Disillusion. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
- "Captain Disillusion". Youtube. Retrieved 5 July 2017.
- Walters, Christian (September 2012). "Skepticism in the Video Box". Skeptical Inquirer: 34.
- Farley, Tim. "Skepticism via YouTube". Skeptical Inquirer. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
- Disillusion, Captain. "Heroic Feats of YouTube Debunkery - Live at QED 2016". Youtube. Retrieved 1 November 2016.
- Richard Saunders (13 August 2010). "The Skeptic Zone #95" (Podcast). The Skeptic Zone. Retrieved 14 January 2014.
- Captain Disillusion Fame Curve Collection – IMDb
- Barness, Sarah (8 November 2013). "WATCH Captain Disillusion Debunk The Viral Ping Pong Knife Act". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
- Luke, Plunkett (8 November 2013). "Surprise, Viral YouTube Smash Is A Total Fake". Kotaku.com. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
- Plait, Phil (19 June 2009). "Captain Disillusion is Amazing". Bad Astronomy. Discover. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
- Wagg, Jeff (28 February 2008). "Captain Disillusion – Fire Angel Debunk". Latest JREF news. James Randi Educational Foundation. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
- "'Captain Disillusion.'". Fortean Times. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
- Ratterman, David (23 January 2002). "Soviet Block Party". Sun Sentinel. Retrieved 27 January 2014.
- "Captain Disillusion – Skeptic's Guide #160". The Skeptics' Guide to the Universe. 13 August 2008. Retrieved 11 January 2014.
- Richard Saunders (6 August 2011). "The Skeptic Zone #146" (Podcast). The Skeptic Zone. Retrieved 24 January 2014.
- Gerbic, Susan (18 July 2016). "The Man Behind the Makeup: An Interview with Captain Disillusion - CSI". www.csicop.org. Skeptical Inquirer. Retrieved 20 July 2016.