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House Of The Dragon Showrunner Ryan Condal Addresses Complaints Over The Show's Dark Lighting

There were plenty of valid criticisms directed at the final season of "Game of Thrones" when it ended its run in the spring of 2019, and one of the very biggest was pretty simple: "we can't see anything." Particularly in episodes like "The Long Night," which featured the now-famous Battle of Winterfell, it was borderline impossible to discern what was going on for a lot of the battle unless you fiddled with the brightness and contrast settings on your laptop or television, marking yet another problem with the infamously maligned eighth season.

For anyone hoping that "House of the Dragon" might have course-corrected when it came to lighting, they were likely disappointed by its inaugural season. While it's not quite as dramatically dark as its predecessor, "House of the Dragon" still had some visibility issues, with critics and fans alike complaining about the weirdly dim lighting. Luckily, showrunner and creator (and "Thrones" veteran) Ryan Condal has an explanation, speaking to multiple outlets about this ongoing issue.

Dark lighting is a Game of Thrones transition, says Condal

In conversation with Deadline, Condal made the somewhat stunning argument that, well, dim lighting in the "Game of Thrones" universe is par for the course.

"It is a bit of a rite of passage on this show," Condal said. "The difference between making television and making movies is when you make a movie, you calibrate the thing that you're making, the master file for this idealized movie theater experience. You know it's going to go into a professionally calibrated environment, run by a professional projectionist on a professional sound system. The problem with making television is you do all of that, you make the show on millions of dollars worth of equipment. You make this perfect file in a perfect environment and on great equipment that's perfectly calibrated by professionals. And then you release it into the wild, and it goes to different distributors who compress the file differently. Some air it in 4k, some in 10 EP, some over-crank the brightness, some under-crank the brightness, some make the sound different. You're also releasing it to tens of millions of different television sets that are all different technology, calibrated differently and set up differently in different viewing environments. It's almost impossible to account for all those variables when you're making the television show. So yes, I heard the note and we're aware. But I will tell you that it looked phenomenal when we posted it and released it. And it looked great on my television, which has been professionally calibrated." As the outlet notes, Condal got a kick out of noting that his television could handle his show, laughing as he said it.

Condal wants to use the dim lighting as a learning experience

On the flip side, speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Condal admitted that he could learn from these critiques, and that it's a much more complex issue than people might think.

"The visual continuity of the show is certainly something that we will look at," Condal mused. "That stuff is always so tricky because we're doing [post-production] on millions of dollars worth of high-end equipment, almost as if we're making a movie. It looked great in post and I looked great on my television. But when you release a Star Wars film, you're releasing it in theaters. For TV, you're releasing it onto a million different television screens and different setups and calibrations all over the planet. You're also releasing it through different distributors who are going to distribute it in 4K or 1080p or 1080i or not that at all. So it's hard to account for [everybody's] televisions and their calibrations and sometimes the file can get compressed. So the show can look very different than the thing that we saw and approved and released."

"But look: It's our job to take all that into account," Condal continued. "These are one of the things that you learn in the making of a show – you take that knowledge into account when making season two and say, 'How can we do better?' The feedback was certainly heard. I get it. And we want the show to be a great viewing experience for everybody."

You can stream the first season of "House of the Dragon" — if you can see what's going on — on HBO Max now.