At the risk of receiving hate mail from other members of the audio/video industry, I feel like ultra, high-end, video calibration is tedious and somewhat over-rated. Maybe I’m just an audio guy at heart, but the improvements that are made from looking at pattern after uninteresting pattern are a bit underwhelming, and the change in my movie watching experience is subtle at best. For most modern consumer displays, a few intelligent tweaks with a good calibration disc can get your display 95% of the way to the industry standard, ISF calibration. Up until recently, you had your choice of “Digital Video Essentials HD Basics” and “Spears & Munsil High-Definition Benchmark” for Blu-ray calibration discs. Enter Disney, with a calibration wizard called “Disney WOW: World of Wonder”. It’s a fantastic disc set, and gives a well paced introduction to the world of high definition video, some pretty advanced audio and video calibration tools, and a great demo reel of Disney’s finest modern movie moments. The disc is divided into three sections: Discover, Optimize, and Experience.
The Discover section is a basic primer on high-definition video, and answers questions some consumers have about resolution, the difference between interlace and progressive scanning, and other topics relating to HD video. If you’re new to HD, this section will cover a lot of ground in an easy to follow format. My only complaint with this section is they lay on the Disney sales pitch pretty heavy, and after a while it becomes obvious that part of WOW is not a calibration tool, but a tool to sell Disney movies.
The meat and potatoes of the disc are in the Optimize section. This where all the test patterns and calibration tools reside, and they are divided into beginner, advanced, and expert levels of calibration. You’ll find video test patterns for brightness, contrast, aspect ratio, convergence, chroma & hue, and sharpness, as well as audio test tones for speaker identification, polarity testing, noise floor, buzz & rattle, and speaker level adjustment. Most test patterns affect each other, so I found you need to go back through each one a couple of times to really get it right.
Once you’ve got your new display looking fantastic, the Experience section delivers 1-2 minute clips of Disney movies like Toy Story 3, Wall-E, and Pirates of Caribbean. It’s over an hour of high-quality video footage, and is perfect for showing off your new media room. As an added bonus, you get a disc of footage called “Visions: Inspired by Nature.” It’s a 60-minute loop of stunning landscapes and serene music, all enhanced to make your new display calibration shine.
I spent a few hours with this disc at home, and even though I play with TVs for a living, found a few things on my LG television that needed very slight adjustment. I found the blue filter used for the chroma and hue adjustments to be extremely helpful, and the built-in descriptions and explanations of each test pattern kept me from opening the manual every two minutes. The manual itself is something to applaud, as it has tons of great screen shots and well written explanations of different test screens. The navigation of the disc was extremely intuitive, and I never felt lost in the menu or unable to find a particular pattern.
You don’t want your new HDTV to look like is just came off the Best Buy show room floor, with glaring ultra-whites and washed out color. If you’re interested in getting the most out of your display, and don’t want to pay hundreds of dollars in calibration costs, the Disney’s World of Wonder Blu-ray will get you pretty close to perfection. Be advised, it will also try and sell you more Disney movies.