calling everyone game of Thrones fans watching house of the dragon on HBO: your tv could benefit from a fine tunning. The highly anticipated prequel series is now streaming in glorious HDR 4K, with the second episode available starting tonight. the first episode, the heirs of the dragonwas visually stunning, and you may have found it dark in more ways than one.
House of the Dragon cinematographer Fabien Wagner also directed numerous GoT episodes, including the infamously dark third episode of season 8, the long night
, also known as The Battle of Winterfell. When viewers complained
unable to follow the action because the episode seemed too dark, Wagner blamed the televisions.
“A big part of the problem is that a lot of people don’t know how to tune their TVs properly.” Wagner said in a 2019 interview defending the lighting of the episode.
Fast forward to May of this year when Wagner posted a trailer for House of the Dragon on his Instagram with the caption “…and it’s not too dark!!!!!! Even when you watch it on your iPhone at broad daylight 😳🤘”.
Wagner may be (ahem) throwing shade, but either way I’m willing to bet some viewers will find parts of House of the Dragon too murky on their TVs. As a TV critic for CNET, I’ve seen my share of dark, er, “cinematic” scenes, and I can tell you he’s right about one thing: a poorly tuned TV can ruin the experience.
To help prevent that from happening to you while enjoying Episode 2, check out my tips below, which have been updated but are very similar to my original tips.
Turn off the lights
Like most things on a big screen, House of the Dragon is best viewed when the room is dark and full of characters.
Turning off the lighting in your room is one of the best ways to improve the image. Any light reflecting off the screen can make dark scenes harder to see and even wash out bright scenes. Try to keep watch at night, or at least draw the curtains, and turn off as many lights as you can. If you must have some light in the room, ideally it should be in a position behind the TV so it doesn’t hit the screen directly, and it should be as dim as possible. bias lighting Is your friend.
Read more: Get Rid of Annoying TV Glare With These 5 Tricks
Choose Movie, Cinema or Calibrated picture mode
All televisions have picture modes that affect almost every aspect of the image: brightness, color, gamma, black level, and image processing, among other things.
Sound complex? Relax, you don’t necessarily have to adjust any of that individually for maximum image quality. The most accurate picture mode on any TV is almost always called Cinema (on LG), Custom (Sony), Movie (Samsung, TCL), or Calibrated Dark (Vizio). Simply choosing it will make your TV look its best in a dark room. If your TV has a filmmaker modethat is also a great choice.
Compared to modes like Standard or Vivid, Movie modes may initially seem duller and less impactful at first. But in almost all cases, they will display the most realistic color and will be tuned for dimly lit rooms, which generally means lower light output, solid contrast, and correct shadow detail. Movie mode isn’t for everyone, so feel free to toggle between the other modes as well. Some of the best TVs have brighter modes that are still accurate.
Turn off the soap opera effect
On many TVs, Movie modes will keep one of the least cinematic effects intact: the soap opera effect, which introduces smoothing that makes motion appear buttery and less cinematic. You’ll want to turn it off to preserve the 24 frame cadence from House of the Dragon (and much more). If you do not believe me, take Tom Cruise’s word for it.
Not all televisions have the video processing that causes the soap opera effect, so if yours doesn’t, you’re free. But most high-end models do, as do many popular mid-range TVs like the TCL 6-Series. And unfortunately, each manufacturer buries it deep in the TV’s settings menu and calls it something different. LG calls it “TruMotion”, Samsung calls it “Auto Motion Plus” or “Picture Clarity”, TCL calls it “Action smoothing”, Sony calls it “MotionFlow” and Vizio calls it “Motion Control”. Here’s how to find it and turn it off..
Other settings to try
Are you feeling adventurous? Your TV has a myriad of other settings to play with, and many have esoteric names and functions. Adjusting any of those settings may or may not improve the image to your eye, and adjusting them using one scene as a reference could make other scenes look worse.
Fortunately, each picture mode has a “reset” function that you can use if you go too far and mess something up. Here are some settings and what they do.
Backlight: This adjusts the light output of your LCD TV. For dark rooms, you’ll generally want it low, because having it too high can wash out the image. Note that some TVs call the backlight setting “Brightness” or, on OLED TVs, “OLED Light”.
Brightness: This adjusts the brightness of the “black” and the detail of the shadows. Increasing it can make dark areas, such as backgrounds in The Battle of Winterfell, more visible, but increasing it too much can again wash out the image.
Contrast: This controls bright details, and setting it too high can make them invisible. It’s usually best left alone.
Color and tint: Two more that, at least in movie modes, are usually best left alone. In any case, you may want to move the color up or down if the image doesn’t look saturated enough (or too saturated), but doing so in one scene can ruin another.
Spectrum: There are usually a couple of settings here, all of which affect the appearance of dark areas. We recommend starting with 2.2.
Local Dimming: if you have a LCD TV with this feature (usually called something annoying like “Xtreme Black Engine Plus” or “Local Contrast”) you’ll want it turned on to increase contrast and improve black levels. On most TVs I’ve reviewed, the lowest local dimming setting looks best, but feel free to cycle through the options.
What about compression artifacts?
Many of the complaints about Game of Thrones mentioned banding along the edges of light as the army of the dead advances, large blocks of darker color as the Dothraki horde recede into the night, and other issues. These same issues could also arise during House of the Dragon.
Unfortunately, these problems are usually not the fault of the TV, so they are more difficult to correct. Most are caused by video compression, the technology used to deliver video streams to your TV, and often there’s nothing you can do about it. At least not until blu ray comes out. you still have a Blu-ray playerCorrect?
In some cases, you can correct these problems by darkening the scenes, for example by lowering the brightness control. Noise reduction controls on your TV can help a bit.
The problem could be your streaming bandwidth. Try reconnecting the device’s Wi-Fi or connecting to your wired router if possible. Bandwidth coming into your home can also be an issue. If you can wait a bit, try watching later when there are fewer viewers streaming in your neighborhood or across the country. here’s a little more tips to improve transmission.
No matter what TV you have, a few settings can improve the picture a bit, whether you’re watching House of the Dragon, Game of Thrones, or any other TV show or movie.