Game of Thrones cinematographer responds to “too dark” complaint

Game of Thrones cinematographer Fabian Wagner has responded to complaints “The Long Night” was too dark to see on TV screens.

He attributes this to HBO’s compression of the episode which is made much worse when watching on phones and tablets. With the 11am screening in Australia, that’s an important factor, along with daylight ad bright rooms.

“We tried to give the viewers and fans a cool episode to watch,” he told TMZ, adding “I know it wasn’t too dark because I shot it.”

He also said showrunners and the director wanted the episode to be dark. The battle scenes were intended to be intense, claustrophobic and disorienting, like they would be in real life, but not confusing.

Foxtel has also responded to complaints.

“Foxtel is transmitting all episodes of Game of Thrones as it was provided to us by HBO. We haven’t deviated from how we’ve broadcast Game of Thrones in past seasons in any way and our HD distribution is in line with our normal high standards,” it said in a statement.

“Australian viewers aren’t the only ones with this experience as there have been many reports, worldwide, that are commenting that many scenes in this episode, and this season, seem darker with less detail during dark scenes than in earlier seasons.

“We are continually monitoring our broadcast to maximise the service quality to ensure it’s the best it can be.”

Source: Nine News


  1. Netflix also seems to prefer dark backgrounds for some it’s big budget shows as well but if you can watch them on a UHD 4K or DV / HDR10 capable screen these dark shadows can show a lot more highlight detail, unfortunately not everyone knows how or can afford to calibrate their new TV and some brands are better than others. GoT will likely look better when the DVD box set is available hopefully with HDR10+ or Dolby Vision and Dolby Atmos. Offering the best format is essentially the responsibility of the broadcaster, the makers of GoT no doubt made this show with state of the art digital cameras, essential for CGI, if HBO supplied GoT only in HD then they should have their knuckles rapped, if Foxtel digitally compressed it for their commercial convenience we also know who to blame.

  2. It was too dark.

    A competent cinematographer tests their work on various screens. Testing especially how it will be received by most viewers.

  3. Many illegal downloads don’t handle darkness very well either so if some people guilty of that were complaining then perhaps they should stay quiet.

  4. This is Game of Thrones after all and the white walkers were never going to make it to the final episodes. Three episodes to get rid of the white walkers and three to crown the king…err queen?!

  5. I had read that G.R.R Martin had given the TV show the plots to his unwritten novels and while there are differences between novels and the show the major plot lines have so far mirrored each other but I do agree it was anti climatic. The white walkers were teased as some sort apocalyptic event. I thought they would spread some destruction over the Seven Kingdoms at least make it to King’s Landing before being defeated yet they have barely crossed the wall and they are done.

    As for the complaints about it being too dark the problem is not all screens are made equal and some will process blacks better than others so no matter the filming or editing the end product will depend on what device and screen quality a person is watching on.

  6. peepatweeta

    This was an amazing episode, and at the end I found myself gasping at the events that had unfolded. We watched it with the lights off, cinema style, and found that helped to make the action clearer. Watching it with lights off also added to the effect.
    I can’t wait to see what happens next.

  7. I didn’t think it was too dark… I’d heard going in to watch it beforehand that it was that way, but I didn’t once think it was too dimly lit.
    I think this issue is now overshadowing the episode’s more pressing failings… like the thick plot armour of our main protagonists… the underwhelming way in which 8 years of build up ended just like that, and the confusing decisions of some characters that lead to some highly convenient scenarios… and dare I say… generic outcomes. All of that was very un-Game of Thrones like (well, when compared to earlier seasons).
    I’m convinced that if G.R.R. Martin had written the ep, the fates of many of these characters and the way the battle played out would have been extraordinarily different. For the better imho.
    But the episode was unprecedented and incredible in every technical aspect don’t get me wrong.

    • Obviously GoT must quickly tie up a lot of loose ends especially for American audiences who have some emotional expectations for the shows conclusion, a lack of a satisfactory ending will depend on whether the more pedantic viewer and devoted fans of the books (which are many) will just accept that the creator of GoT eventually could not handle the demands imposed by American commercial TV and that the committee script writers took over his universe with a contingency to make future spin-offs and keep the money rolling in. I suspect that the future of their franchise may not be as rosy as they believe.

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