Game of Thrones cinematographer: it’s not me, it’s your TV settings


Perhaps you, like countless others who have sounded off on social media in the past few days, had trouble viewing the most recent episode of Game of Thrones, in which the living faced off against the dead in the dark of night. There was plenty of fire to go around, but for the most part, the episode was a flurry of hard-to-see action taking place in poorly lit environments. Even die-hard fans were complaining en masse.

Know that the decision to film the episode in such a fashion was a purposeful one, according to cinematographer Fabian Wagner, and he blames your TV settings or the quality of your screen if you had trouble making out what was happening. After all, Wagner says the show was directed and shot like a cinematic experience that could be viewed in a movie theater, even though it’s predominantly streamed at compressed quality to screens of all shapes and sizes.

In a pair of interviews given to Wired UK and TMZ, Wagner explained the reasoning behind the artistic choice to film such a dark, claustrophobic battle. He also pointed the finger at technology, specifically a lack of quality and understanding of it. “A lot of the problem is that a lot of people don’t know how to tune their TVs properly,” Wagner told Wired UK. “A lot of people also unfortunately watch it on small iPads, which in no way can do justice to a show like that anyway.”

What is this TV tuning he’s talking about? Well, according to The Verge’s resident TV expert Chris Welch, there are a number of factors that could result in a less-than-stellar stream of the episode. Wagner also said HBO’s compression of the episode, to help smooth over the streaming process for millions of viewers with varying connection speeds, is another contributor.

There’s the brightness level of your TV as well as the picture mode. Both can impact how sharp on-screen action appears in scenes with vastly disparate lighting levels. There’s also the backlight level that can light up hard-to-see parts of a particularly dark shot, while nearby lighting sources can cause reflections and make it even more difficult to focus on the on-screen image.

Having an OLED display also goes a long way in helping differentiate the action of a shot with a considerable amount of black pixels in the frame. Finally, as Wagner points out, there’s the raw streaming quality to take into account, with fans debating the best streaming service to view the episode on before an official Blu-ray. For now, it sounds like Amazon is the way to go, given its potentially higher bitrate.

As for why the episode had to be so dark, Wagner says it was an artistic choice. “The showrunners decided that this had to be a dark episode,” he tells Wired UK. “We’d seen so many battle scenes over the years — to make it truly impactful and to care for the characters, you have to find a unique way of portraying the story.”

For those who are still unconvinced, Wagner offered a more definitive response to TMZ: “We tried to give the viewers and fans a cool episode to watch,” he said. “I know it wasn’t too dark because I shot it.”


The Long Night is series second-worst rated episode on Rotten Tomatoes. Can you guess the worst one?

Earlier this week, Game of Thrones latest episode The Long Night became the most tweeted about television episode in Twitter history. It received more than 52 million tweets in just a single day, an impressive feat for any film or show. While most fans were in awe of the episode, its blurry and dark cinematography and the unbelievable twist at the end left some dissatisfied.

According to a new report on review aggregator website Rotten Tomatoes, critics were not all love for the episode. The episode received a fresh but disappointing rating of 75% after registering 93 reviews, making it the second worst rated episode in the entire series. While for any other film or TV show, 75% rating would be called healthy and hopeful, the same doesn’t stand true for Game of Thrones, 22 episodes of which have earned 100% ratings so far.

For those wondering which episode still maintains the worst rating, it is fifth season’s sixth episode titled Unbowed, Unbent, Unbroken. As a refresher, it is the same episode that showed Sansa Stark’s wedding to Ramsay Bolton and her horrible rape right after. The scene became majorly controversial and earned a lot of flak from viewers all around the world.

However, The Long Night still ranks below The Bear and the Maiden Fair (77%). As for the 22 episodes rated 100%, eight belong to season one itself. Others include Blackwater, The Rains of Castermere, Hardhome and The Lion and The Rose (The Purple Wedding).

As for The Long Night, many viewers and critics complained that the episode was literally too dark to make out what was happening. Several people took to Twitter to complain about it as well.




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