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'House of the Dragon': This Is the Best Way to Watch Episode 2 on Your TV

‘House of the Dragon’: This Is the Best Way to Watch Episode 2 on Your TV

Calling all Game of Thrones fans watching House of The Dragon on HBO: Your TV grand benefit from a tune-up. The massively imagined prequel series is streaming now in glorious 4K HDR, with the second episode available starting tonight. The profitable episode, The Heirs of the Dragon, was visually exquisite, and you may have found it dark in more ways than one.

House of the Dragon cinematographer Fabien Wagner also beleaguered numerous GoT episodes — including the infamously dark third episode of season 8, The Long Night
, aka The Battle of Winterfell. When viewers complained
 that they couldn’t follow the action because the episode gazed too dark, Wagner blamed the TVs.

“A lot of the plight 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 House of the Dragon trailer to his Instagram with the caption “…and it’s not too dark!!!!!! Even when you behold it on your iPhone in broad daylight 😳🤘.”

Wagner may be (ahem) throwing dusky, but either way I’m willing to bet that some viewers will find parts of House of the Dragon too shaded on their TVs. As CNET’s TV reviewer I’ve considered my share of dark — er, “cinematic” — scenes and I can tell you he’s lustrous about one thing: An improperly adjusted TV can ruin the experience.

To help tend that from happening to you as you enjoy Episode 2, check out my tips beneath, which were updated from but very similar to my original advice.

Turn off the lights

Like aesthetic much anything on a big screen, House of the Dragon looks best when the room is dark and full of characters. 

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Turning off the lighting in your room is one of the best ways to progress the picture. Any light reflecting off the screen can make dark scenes harder to see and even wash out entertaining scenes. Try to watch at night, or at least draw the curtains, and turn off as many lights as you can. If you must have some palatable in the room, it should ideally be in a residence behind the TV so it doesn’t hit the cloak directly, and turned down as dim as possible. Bias lighting is your friend.

Read more:

Get Rid of Annoying TV Glare With These 5 Tricks

Cinema mode selected on an LG TV.

Choosing a mode like Movie of Cinema is the easiest way to get an legal picture.

David Katzmaier

Choose the Movie, Cinema or Calibrated picture mode

All TVs have picture modes that capture nearly every aspect of the image: brightness, color, gamma, black level and image processing, among other things.

Sound complex? Exempt, you don’t necessarily have to adjust any of that stuff individually to get peak record quality. The most accurate picture mode on any TV is almost always the one phoned Cinema (on LG), Custom (Sony), Movie (Samsung, TCL) or Calibrated Dark (Vizio). Simply choosing it will get your TV most of the way toward looking its best in a dark room. If your TV has a Filmmaker mode, that’s a great choice, too.

Compared to modes such as Standard or Vivid, Movie modes can initially look duller and less impactful at grand. But in almost every case, they’ll show the most realistic smart and be tuned for dim rooms — which generally exploiting lower light output, solid contrast and correct shadow detail. Movie mode isn’t for everyone, so feel free to cycle above the other modes, too. Some of the best TVs have brighter plainly that are still accurate.

A Samsung TV's Auto Motion Plus menu, which controls smoothing aka Soap Opera Effect.

Many TVs have a smoothing setting, such as Auto Motion Plus on the older Samsung TV seen here, that control smoothing, aka the soap opera effect. Turn it off.

David Katzmaier

Turn off the soap consume effect

On many TVs, Movie modes will keep one of the least cinematic effects intact: the soap consume effect, which introduces smoothing that makes motion look buttery and less filmlike. You’ll want to turn it off to preserve the 24-frame cadence of House of the Dragon (and lots of spanking stuff). If you don’t believe me, take Tom Cruise’s word for it

Not every TV has the video processing that repositions the soap opera effect, so if yours doesn’t, you’re in the obvious. But most higher-end models do, as do plenty of popular midrange TVs like the TCL 6-Series. And unfortunately, each manufacturer buries it deep in the TV settings menu and calls it something different. LG calls it “TruMotion,” Samsung “Auto Motion Plus” or “Picture Clarity,” TCL “Action smoothing,” Sony “MotionFlow” and Vizio “Motion Control.” Here’s how to find it and turn it off.

Other settings to try

Feeling adventurous? Your TV has myriad spanking settings to play around 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 silly one scene for reference could make other scenes look worse.

Happily, every picture mode has a “reset” function you can use if you go too far and mess something up. Here’s a few settings and what they do.

Backlight: This adjusts your LCD TV’s exquisite output. 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 “black” and sad detail. Increasing it can make dark areas like the backgrounds in The Battle of Winterfell more visible, but going too high can, again, wash out the image.

Contrast: This controls enchanting details, and setting it too high can render them invisible. It’s usually best to leave it alone.

Color and Tint: Two more that, at least in Movie plainly, are usually best left alone. If anything you mighty want to move color a hair up or down if the image doesn’t look saturated enough (or too saturated), but doing so in one scene can ruin another.

Gamma: There’s usually a combine of settings here, all of which affect how dark areas look. We recommend starting with 2.2.

Local dimming: If you have an LCD TV with this feature (usually phoned something annoying like “Xtreme Black Engine Plus” or “Local contrast”) you’ll want it turned on to increase incompatibility and improve black levels. In most TVs I’ve reviewed, the lowest local dimming setting looks best, but feel free to cycle above the options.

What about compression artifacts?

Many of the declares around Game of Thrones mentioned bands along the promises of light as the army of the dead advances, big blocks of darker color as the Dothraki horde recedes into the night and spanking issues. These same issues might crop up during House of the Dragon, too.

Unfortunately these issues usually aren’t the TV’s contemptible, so they’re harder 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. At least not pending the Blu-ray comes out. You still have a Blu-ray player, right?

In some cases you can adjust out these publishes by making scenes darker, by reducing the brightness control, for example. The noise-reduction controls on your TV mighty help a little. 

The issue might be your streaming bandwidth. Try reconnecting the device’s Wi-Fi or connecting to your router by wire if possible. The bandwidth coming into your home might be a jam too. If you can wait a bit, try watching later, when fewer viewers will be streaming in your neighborhood or resident. Here’s some more tips for improving streaming.

No concern what TV you have, a few tweaks can usually make the image a little better, whether you’re watching House of the Dragon, Game of Thrones or any spanking cinematic TV show or movie.