NOTE: Minor spoilers ahead. Do not read if you haven’t seen Season 8, Episode 3 of Game of Thrones, The Long Night.
night episode was dark and full of terrors, but many Game of Thrones viewers were left dissatisfied after Sunday night’s Battle of Winterfell in the episode The Long Night.
Within minutes of the episode starting, fans took to social media to complain about the show’s brightness — or lack thereof. Indeed, the much-anticipated battle between humanity and the undead — which took place at night in total darkness — was tough to see and, to add to the confusion, quick-paced, making it very difficult to pick up on subtle details.
At times, it was hard to know who was fighting with whom or who had met their end. Viewers tried to adjust their personal screen settings to no avail. Online reports from Canadian cable subscribers, including those using both Bell and Rogers, flooded social media.
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Watching the episode of Game of Thrones looked a lot like this:
Other screengrabs taken by viewers were just as murky.
In some ways, the darkness was effective in that viewers didn’t know what was coming, just like the characters on the show. It definitely added to the suspense of the proceedings and made it feel like a horror: what was going to emerge from the blackness?
On the flip side, it was frustrating for fans because of the speed of the battle. With characters — many of whom look the same, with lots of beards, armour and thick, furry clothing — moving quickly and engaging in hand-to-hand combat, it was nearly impossible to tell in some scenes who had felled the enemy or if a character was dead.
Matthew Dessem at Slate wrote that it was a confluence of factors: working in digital filming and post-production makes it easier to work in low light, and most people’s TVs are now high-definition, which makes low-lit TV look worse.
On top of it all, Dessem writes, most cable companies have now switched to digital distribution, meaning the video being presented is additionally compressed.
So is there anything Game of Thrones viewers can do to improve their experience for the final three episodes? Experts suggest both darkening the room as much as possible and upping the screen brightness slightly, but not too much, or else the colours will be washed out and grainy.
Episode 4 of Season 8 — the third-last-ever episode — airs next Sunday night.