For many spectators who tuned Game of Thrones last night, what was supposed to be one of the most remarkable and momentous scenes of the show was marred by, well, darkness. The Battle of Winterfell, which takes place in the episode of season 8 "The Long Night", took 55 nights to shoot, and was the largest-scale battle sequence in the history of Thrones . It was meant to be a final flex of the season of epic proportions.
But the direction options of Miguel Sapochnik and the nightly configuration of the battle were a perfect combination to expose the weaknesses of the streaming world in which we live today. Many fans went to Twitter to complain about a constant pixilation and extreme difficulty to follow what was happening on the screen. A dozen variations on "who died in Game of Thrones ?" It emerged as the main Internet searches of the previous night and this morning, while viewers tried to make sense of the visually muddy action. Pranks and memes abounded.
I tried watching Game Of Thrones tonight, but the episode was too dark to see anything. Although it sounded very exciting!
– Colleen Ballinger (@ ColleenB123) April 29, 2019
Why did she look so bad? Well, there is no way to prevent dark things from being difficult to see, but the main problem added here is compression. When Game of Thrones arrives on your TV or mobile device every Sunday night, it has been completely compressed, both by HBO and your cable / satellite / transmission provider. This is a necessity to make the program accessible to a wide range of people with different Internet connection speeds. The compression is also applied on the fly for all those tuning through a cable, where the disadvantages can be more serious and notorious:
I checked the last nights GOT in proper HD, it was still dark but it looked very good and the darkness felt deliberate and witty. I think the problem in the first display was the terrible and terrible quality of @verizonfios TERRIBLE TERRIBLE QUALITY OF Verizon Fios.
– Casey Neistat (@CaseyNeistat) April 29, 2019  It's 2019 and I pay monthly for Sky TV to see Game of Thrones, but a 1080p torrent is even better in bit quality and audio than what I pay. How is this possible?
– Tom Warren (@tomwarren) April 16, 2019
Here are some ways you can handle the problem:
- Find the best quality video stream
is the King when he finds the best transmission or download of a television show. You want the program to be delivered to your device with the highest possible quality. No cable or transmission box can repair a noisy pixelated video stream if that is the source material that is delivered from the beginning.
I have seen reports that Amazon, which sells the HBO service for $ 15 per month through Prime Video, tends to transmit Game of Thrones to around 10Mbps, while HBO Now and HBO Go they give exit to the program to more than 5Mbps. That difference may seem small, but it is significant. The Game of Thrones version of Amazon is less likely to display a pixelation or macroblock that distracts. I asked both companies for specific details about their presentation of Game of Thrones . But there is a consensus among the nerds that cut ropes in Reddit that Amazon is the best at this time.
Apple has also promised the best video presentation of its next Apple TV channel, which will include HBO. Unfortunately, they are not expected to be available until sometime in May, by which time the company will have missed several Game of Thrones episodes possibly for the rest of the season.
In general, HBO is far behind Netflix when it comes to the presentation. One of these companies is offering many programs in 4K HDR, and the other is struggling to make a 1080p video broadcast look satisfying on the television in their living room.
For most shows, the problems are not so obvious. But with Game of Thrones executing such a poorly lit sequence for such a large percentage of the episode, it was difficult to ignore the obvious compression and lack of brightness of the Battle of Winterfell.
- Check your TV brightness settings
The default picture mode of many TVs that are shipped today is often too bright and hard on the eyes. Your natural inclination could be to decrease the brightness so that the shadows look blacker and less gray. But that will only make things more difficult to discern, since you'll lose details in the shadows as you drop the glitter slider down. If your TV has a movie, cinema or calibrated mode, this is probably the best option for Game of Thrones since it should limit the brightness while preserving things that may be more difficult to distinguish on the screen.
Beric Dondarrion is the true MVP of the Battle of Winterfell, because he carries a sword of fire wherever he goes, so you can really see who fights in his scenes and what is happening. #GameOfThrones pic.twitter.com/CbJtSOPCpP
– Tasha Robinson (@TashaRobinson) April 29, 2019
- Increase the backlight level
Maybe you care more about what he sees is happening in hell than the realism of an evening battle being completely black. In that case, you should adjust the backlight of your LCD TV to a higher level so that something that is difficult to understand appears. You can always go down for scenes with normal lighting.
It is rare for you to see extensive scenes that are as relentlessly dark as the Battle of Winterfell, but when you do, remove all stops. Turn off nearby lamps or any other light source that may cause reflections or a flat external glow on your TV screen. You probably already do this ritual on Sunday night, but if you do not, give him a chance to watch the episode this week again.
LG and Sony's OLED TVs can achieve perfect blacks, since each pixel is self-illuminating; LCD TVs have backlighting that illuminates larger sections of the panel, which can make the dark scenes a bit hazy and too gray.
That said, while OLEDs excel at the black level and in contrast, sometimes they tend to squash details in dark scenes like Winterfell's huge battle, especially if your TV has not been calibrated.
- There are many factors that affect all this, and you have no control over them all
Is there someone in your place who uses the internet to play or broadcast while you are watching Game of Thrones ? That will limit the amount of Internet bandwidth that can be devoted to the program. Also keep in mind that HBO is in a serious crisis of resources when it broadcasts the new episode each week live as it happens. Transmission episodes on HBO can now look significantly better the next day, when fewer people try to stream at the same time.
- Just buy it on Blu-ray later if you need perfect images
When you buy Game of Thrones on Blu-ray, HBO can take advantage of all the storage space on each disc and go easier on video compression with loss, without pixelation or ugly artifacts to talk about. For some people, the fast-moving scenes in "The Long Night" got so bad they almost looked like they were watching a GIF, but that's not a concern for the home media.
That said, Blu-ray is totally irrelevant if you're trying to watch this last season of Game of Thrones since it airs week by week.
I would like to think that HBO performs transmission tests on a variety of television sets, in the same way that music engineers often travel in old cars to make sure that their audio mastering is maintained in different environments. If there is not a wall full of $ 500 Roku televisions combined with expensive OLEDs somewhere in the HBO headquarters, maybe the fuss of the previous night justifies that.
And let us hope that the next war for the Iron Throne will happen in the light of day.