Hands On: Disney WOW Calibration Disc
Disney's World of Wonder (WOW) Calibration Disc has a full set of video test patterns and audio test tones to improve system performance.
October 29, 2010 by Robert Archer

Many enthusiasts and electronics professionals consider Disney the benchmark of quality for home video products. Now the media conglomerate is looking to ensure consumers get the optimal home video experience.

At CEDIA Expo 2010 last month, Disney debuted its World of Wonder (WOW) Calibration Disc, a step-by-step visual guide (pdf) to calibrating and optimizing an entertainment system. The WOW disc will be released Nov. 2 on Blu-ray ($34) and DVD ($24).

Disney says it’s getting involved in the home theater market because a poorly set up home entertainment system can offset the post-production and quality assurance processes it employs.

“We want to ensure quality presentation of all our content,” says Disney. “We do our part to ensure our Blu-ray Discs and DVDs have the highest quality picture and sound possible. But an un-calibrated home theater system can negate the quality and provide a less-than-optimal consumer experience.”

In the past, Disney packaged THX’s Optimizer bundle with some of its video releases. But Disney says its WOW disc offers users a wider array of products to calibrate their systems.

Pointing out that most TVs are set up for display in retail showrooms, Disney says its WOW disc provides consumers of all technical backgrounds the ability to improve the audio and video performance of their system.

“The WOW disc has an entire educational section, broken down between Beginner and Advanced,” says a Disney spokesperson. “You can learn with Goofy or dive into more technical subjects with visual and voiceover explanations of key topics. ... There are reference level tools as well as simple basic tools for the beginner.”

Beyond retail potential, Disney is exploring the custom installation potential of the software. If the WOW disc is well received by the custom electronics (CE) pro market, Disney says it could develop a training program to offer installers.

“3D makes proper calibration ever more important, [a] quality presentation is everything, [and] the desire for consumers to experience our content in the best possible quality remains,” Disney says.

I received a copy of the Blu-ray version, using the software to set up a 46-inch Samsung LED 8000 Series TV. The disc produced some stunning results.

Kudos to Disney for packaging the disc with a companion booklet that explains the disc’s menu system and definitions for the calibration tools. Disney also includes a blue filter that facilitates the calibration of a display’s color and tint levels.

Using a combination of the Beginner and Advanced calibration tools, I dialed in the Samsung TV to some accurate, eye-popping levels.

The disc previews and explains calibration in a way that will be understandable to the non-technical. The disc was able to toggle back and forth from the disc’s main menu to specific test patterns without too much fuss, which comes in handy when trying to dial in settings like contrast and black levels that typically interact with one another.

Disney’s WOW disc is great for installers and home theater enthusiasts because of all of the collateral materials included in the package. The second disc features an hour of beautiful nature scenes. The first disc offers a full retail video loop and the ability to choose specific clips from the retail loop. Among the clips are scenes from “Bolt,” “Toy Story” and “Pirates of the Caribbean.”

These movies make for great demo footage as well, and let you demonstrate the value of professional and DIY calibration.

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Robert Archer - Senior Editor, CE Pro
Bob is a dedicated audiophile who has been writing about A/V for Electronic House sister publication CE Pro since 2000.

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