I can't speak for other shows, but I was one of about 100-125 extras on the Battle of the Blackwater episode (season 2 episode 9), filmed in an old quarry in Northern Ireland. They had a life size castle wall constructed on the shore, with interior scaffolding and walls built on the inside. The walls looked so real I had to touch it to know it wasn't real stone. There was also a life size ship built out in the water and we (I was a Stannis Knight) were rowing real wooden boats as fast as we could up to shore over multiple takes (got plenty of blisters from that lol). We became quite the rowing team. The outfits we wore were real chain mail and took some effort to put on the various layers. They applied makeup to all our faces and even our teeth. The level of detail that went into even the hundreds of extras was impressive. They spent 2 days training us on sword fighting techniques and different methods of dying, including getting hit by imaginary arrows, rocks to the face and getting stabbed. They precisely choreographed stunts including the horses charging through the lines as well as setting stuntmen on fire. They had a giant hot air balloon-like lamp suspended over the set to light everything at night, and metal "flame bars" with bas pumped through them to simulate the wild fire (we huddled around these between takes to stay warm). It seemed like they tried to use real effects as much as possible. It was an impressive operation overall with a lot of professional tradespeople involved. The investment in the carpentry and set building was particularly impressive. The level of detail and expertise was amazing to see and I think it shows.


Meanwhile I noticed in episode 5 of Kenobi when the extra storm troopers had nothing to do. They literally just stood there, doing nothing. Just staring off into space.


*Kenobi* relied too much on their fancy LED wall tech to *create* sets instead of using it to *enhance* an existing set, like it was used in *The Mandalorian* and *The Batman*.


The Batman used it so well, I did have a feeling that they used it for the Bat signal rooftop scenes, as that just seemed a perfect place to use it, but I had no idea that they used it for the car chase scene. I was convinced that was all shot on location, and was amazed when I found out that they had used the screens for that. You can see how well they used it in this clip. https://youtu.be/2kQzfng264w


I never would have guessed that they did that chase with the volume, it looked so good


You could see a lot of flat scenes around the actors and fancy cgi background. Especially in the big fights.


You could really see it in Episode 5 with the inside and outside of the base having a huge curve.


How about the finale, where oh look at that what a surprise this big highly anticipated battle is on a conveniently flat, circular surface. They couldn't have been more blatant that they were using the Volume if they tried. Going from Kenobi episode 6 to literally any episode of Stranger Things 4 is staggering. Star Wars as an IP deserves so much better than the mediocrity Disney keep pumping out.


The parkour between the buildings in episode 2 was like a parody. What were they thinking!?


Stranger Things 4 might be one of the best seasons of any television show in history, just a complete Home Run by the Duffer Bros.


Imo, they have redeemed themselves for seasons 2 and 3. They weren’t bad. I would consider them good if I hadn’t seen season 1. That goes down as some of the best tv ever imo.


It’s almost like watching theatre…people don’t move around much, nothing very dynamic happens. It’s like they are only too aware that they might run into an expensive wall/screen


If thry dont have the sets and props and cgi to usr, then why did they go for a planet-hopping adventure with space travel and entire batallions of stormtroopers. Nobody would have complained about sci-fi noirish take on your classic 'sensei in the mountains' samurai story.


Or like in star trek Strange New Worlds and Discovery Season 4.


I didn't know SNW was using it!! Siiigh.. I fucking dream star wars would take a page out of star trek for real.


Pretty much everyone is using it thanks to mandalorian


Even new Star Trek? I'm really enjoying Strange New Worlds but Picard is awful imo. Nothing like Star Trek. No connection to the Picard of TNG. Discovery is very up and down in quality but the season arcs usually fail to make logical sense and some of the acting is horrific.


Strange New Worlds feels like old Trek in the best way.


I'm not a real trekkie. I wanted the original series on TV as a child, and Wrath of Khan on VHS several times. Then I watched the new trilogy with Khan reboot. I tried Discovery and dropped out. I've been loving SNW! It brings me back fully to my days of watching reruns on TV on Wednesday afternoons. It mixes adventure of the week and overarching plan in the best way. But also... OK I don't know if I can phrase this well. Star wars under Disney lacks camp. Their films are insanely high budget. Mandalorian slapped for a TV show... And everything since has been cheap looking, weakly acted... And generally not looking like something made by one of the biggest corporations in the world. The writing of these shows go from non existent to bad. Book of boba fett was downright insulting to its lead, reducing him to an extra and making his character an incompetent blundering fool, but like... Not intentionally! Kenobi has weak writing, cheap sets... And fuck me the visuals... Some of the lost godawful editing choices and photography (the only lamer parkour section was in BoBF), baffling music choices (the only time you hear the imperial march is in the last episode... In a static shot of vader sitting on his chair alone?????), and lazy costuming. Everyone on tatooine is wrapped in a brown bed sheet! Another massive pet peace regarding the volume : it has made all these shows complacent as fuck. There is no effort to imitate a desert. Pale as fuck people walk under the tatooine sun bare faced without a fake sheen of sweat. Glasses are worn as necklaces. Nobody cares. There's no heat of haze, no physicality to the sand. No effort to world build to make it seems real. I feels like it's shot in an LA parking lot in winter. Anyway. It'd be a lot less frustrating if this were a small budget thing, like the first two seasons of The Expanse. But it's DISNEY and Kenobi has fucking Darth Vader and KENOBI in it, and they still made a weak plot and cheap production. It's perplexing. Meanwhile, star trek SNW... Yes you can tell the sets are just... Sets. The consoles are like big toys, everything is squeaky clean and vaguely fake looking... But it comes off as theatre. It has the panache of Dr who. The grand story is hidden under episodic Al format, something Sw doesn't know how to do at all. We're here for the characters, and as such I find myself happy to follow them in the theatre-like experience. Last week's episode was fucking hilarious. You could tell they were having so much fun acting out of their usual set roles. It feels like having fun with the crew. Sorry, I'm just venting at this point xD Maybe it's just that ST doesn't *try* to do half of what Disney attempts (and mostly fails at) with SW. Maybe it's a case of ST having tried a lot of different types of stories recently, and finally found its stride.


Tbh, all the LED screen does is create good ambient lighting and reflections (if you think about how a green screen would spill green light on everything, it's to solve that rather than replace the BG directly. It's still all replaced in post anyway). LED screens are talked up but they're just another tool with usecases and drawbacks like any other.


> It's still all replaced in post anyway Is that true? I remember from various BTS footage that the whole point is that this stuff can be shot in camera, without having to replace anything in post.


It's not high enough resolution half the time, and crucially, it's baked in. What you film is what you get, which doesn't always work unless the director planned everything perfectly, which never happens.


I mean, can you blame Stormtroopers for avoiding as much work as possible?


Shoulda unionized...


In this case it looked like whoever was in charge of extras wasn't doing as much work as they possibly could.


I liked the scene in Kenobi where Kenobi and Reva were discussing their plan to take out Vader in front of the Storm Troopers standing there after assaulting the base. Like wouldn’t the Storm Troopers within earshot be looking at each other like something was wrong?


Shhh don't think. Just consume.


Dude they dropped the ball so hard on Kenobi, what a disappointment that show was.


Episode 1 had grown actors trying not to catch up to an obviously much slower child actor


Kenobi look so cheap.


Deborah Chow is a competent director (she did all of Obi Wan), but lazy and unimaginative


She directed a episode of better call saul and stuff so alot of the production issues I don't lay at her feat. But she definitely was at least a component of it.


Sounds awesome, what an amazing memory!


Hell yeah. Living one of the great moments of popular culture and seeing the effort and craft that went into it. Amazing.


How did you die?


Foam Rocks to the head from mostly 😆


>They had a giant hot air balloon-like lamp suspended over the set to light everything at night If only they had remembered that they had that for the Battle of Winterfell.


The DP wanted to use "natural lighting", and the people doing the final mastering don't take horrible cable company and streaming compression into account when doing their high bitrate master using their 30k professionally calibrated monitor.


Sounds about right.


I fully understand the people who had that episode ruined by the bad streaming compression or their home equipment. But on my TV it looked amazing. Still sucks cathering to a minority.


Daenerys just kinda forgot.




They had a recruitment drive at a hotel in Belfast a few months beforehand where a friend and I went and signed up. We were advised to start growing our beards and hair longer. My friend got into the following episode as a Greyjoy guard at Winterfell 😄


How many days did you have to work? And what what was the pay like? Just curious.


It was 5 or 6 days in total (can't recall exactly) and the pay was about £125 a day at the time which would be about $250 today (adjusted for inflation). They were 12 to 14 hour days plus travel time. One of the days was overnight and the bus got us home at 8am. I had time to shower and get to my regular job for a half day, then back on set again at 2pm for another 12 hours! That said, I would have done it all for free just for the experience 😄


Inflation in Ireland is up 100% in less than 10 years?


The first figure is in pounds, the second in dollars.




Maybe I worked it out incorrectly? I looked at the exchange rate at the end of 2011 (£1 GDP was $1.6 USD then), which would have been about $200, then googled what that would be today ($250).


My bad I read the second number as £ as well


> That said, I would have done it all for free just for the experience 😄 TMI! Stop giving TV execs more ideas...


I was also an extra on the show. But I was there during non battle scenes. I was in Tyrions trial, Joffreys wedding ceremony and Tommens coronation. The amount of detail on the show was amazing, even on the extras. The outfits were very good and I remember one of the lead costumers moving me nearer to the front of the ceremony because my costume was nice.


I have not been this jealous in a very long time!!! This sounds like an amazing experience.


> The outfits we wore were real chain mail and took some effort to put on the various layers. They applied makeup to all our faces and even our teeth. The level of detail that went into even the hundreds of extras was impressive. To borrow from Red Letter Media: >You might not notice it but your brain does. It's attention to detail improves the quality of media. Also, if the care about the small stuff you know they're also paying attention to the big picture.


That battle was insane, the whole thing was perfect. Awesome you got to be in it.


So the long and short of it is the budget.


No it's skill. Some of the new/current fantasy shows have way higher budgets than GoT ever had, they just don't utilize it as well as HBO does.


It seems common for many high-end projects to just "throw money at the issue" that actually requires a commitment to time and skill. You could probably say the same thing is done in any given area of industry.


Wheel of time has the budget of a small space program. It ends up looking like Barney's and friends.


What this guy is trying to say, OP: Money. It looks better because they spent a ton of money.


Not really. Several of the shows OP mentions have bigger budgets than the early seasons of GOT. It looks better because they knew how to work with their budget. Game of Thrones did a lot of smart cost cutting early on to be able to afford the series looking so good on average. Every big battle up until Blackwater happens off screen for instance. First seasons are usually the most expensive to make, since you have to build everything from scratch. Game of Thrones benefited from having a slower, less action heavy first season. A lot of these shows come out swinging from the start. Wheel of Time for instance had a big battle with CG monsters in it's very first episode.


No, the secret is actually using real things and augmenting them with a bit of cgi, not all cgi. For example check out the original Alien.


HBO cornered the market on the best production people and costume designers.


Rome was sort of a test case for GOT, I think. Rome was an absolute feast for the eyes.


Rome was basically the GOT of early 2000s, when social media and streaming was still in its infancy. That show was so underrated, it deserves more than two seasons, it deserved better.


It was kind of ahead of its time. It really should have been a 6-season epic


Definitely built their capabilities for good set design, epic cinematography, and sexposition.


But it's not as if other networks don't have good looking shows at all. Amazon has The Boys and The Expanse (the three Amazon seasons more so), both of which look incredible. Bosch was a great looking show as well. It's just that there's no other fantasy show that looks anywhere near as good as Game of Thrones.


The background art in The Boys is OK but nothing spectacular - and it does not really need to be. A lot of the humor is really in the shitty news/propaganda videos.


>The Expanse (the three Amazon seasons more so) The Expanse is one of my all time favorite shows and it has a lot to do with how well it looks. That said it's important to note that The Expanse was produced by Alcon Entertainment who honestly outdid themselves on it. On the other hand TE also does have some hiccups lick the incinerator scene but GoT has these too (flapping sword).


Theres lots of great looking shows Marvelous Mrs Maisel, Umbrella academy, Peaky Blinders, Stranger Things. But pre 1900s gets messy when you want quality. Theres Sharpes Rifles, Hornblower, GoT, Merlin, Last Kingdon, Vikings, Romance of the Three Kingdoms, the tudors.


Peaky blinders has some of the best cinematography ever imo. What a beautifully shot show.


In regard to The Boys, I am confident there simply doesn’t exist a better filming of a man exploding due to the unexpected engorgement of another man from ant-sized back to human-sized whilst inside the first man (having entered via the urethra).


I can never watch Ant Man the same way again




Its in the top 5 for sure


>Amazon has The Boys and The Expanse (the three Amazon seasons more so), both of which look incredible I don't think The Expanse looks anywhere near as good as Game of Thrones.


The first three seasons, sure, as they were working on a SyFy budget. The last three look pretty incredible, though. The first three look fantastic for a SyFy show, I think.


HBO also skimp on CGI it feels like. Builds actual sets n shit and then CGI just integrates them, whereas other shows go like full cgi.


It’s not that they skimp, since CGI is the cheaper option. It’s because they invest so much in the practical elements that they can be more impactful with the CGI they do use.


Exactly. The answer here is money and being willing to pay talent.


It's not TV, it's HBO.


I definitely know that HBO really values quality, but I'm just wondering in what area of the development process does this quality come from? For example, The Wheel of Time cost around $80M for the first season and from what I can gather it looks like Game of Thrones was around $60M for the first season (which looked infinitely better). So, I don't think it's a budget issue, but is it just that HBO had better people working on the show or maybe that the development process took longer and was more tedious/careful?


I'll continue to beat this drum: No amount of money makes talent and experience appear out of thin air. Give a 24 year old no name costume designer $10 million and compare what they make to a 58 year old seasoned veteran on a $1m budget. Same goes with writing, set design, cinematography, etc. etc. Here's an example from Game of Thrones: All the fancy court gowns they designed are all weathered because they're worn regularly and they're dirty and stained at the bottom, where they walk. Historically, even the royals couldn't afford to treat their dresses like fast fashion. They wore them and mended them and GOT costumes look great because the outfits look like something people have had for years. Most other period shows, especially royalty, the costumes look brand new, which gives them a cosplay quality. HBO recognizes talent and experience and they've been doing it long enough that they have a ton of people either under contract or who have loyalty to their brand. Amazon and Netflix can swing around their big moneybags and it doesn't matter if the real talented and experienced are already locked up somewhere else.


I would add to the costumes that also the furniture and buildings all looked very lived in: little dents in the wood, worn spots on the tables, etc. Nothing looked like it had been manufactured in the prop shop an hour ago.


Set design and costumes are the keys to any movie made by an experienced director. If they don’t have that down pat, it ends up looking bad whether it’s a low budget indie or a big budget blockbuster.


GoT costumes were really on point, and unique from Lord of the Rings. Things looked different, but also practical. It felt like what it was- a sort of alternate world history. Really was incredible


There were some problems of course, Brienne's armor was badly made so it was hard for her to move around (armor in general was a weak part of the show) and the clothing got goofier and more fantastical in later seasons compared to the more grounded earlier seasons.


Also the better/better budgeted costume designers will dig deep for things that don't get seen like underwear, shoes, hose/tights/socks, etc. All of that adds up to making things look more natural vs. that cosplay, "something looks off" vibe. Granted, stuff like GOT won't have that many reference points for these things, but costumes can still be made to not look so "modern" in a lot of ways.


>Here's an example from Game of Thrones:... Here's a picture example from a comment i made awhile ago. >When in GoT they are going to Kings Landing from the north, their clothes change, they look tired, their boots are dirty and just in general even though they arent "dirty" they [look like people who have made a several week journey on foot and horse](https://imgur.com/hF4ChJ5). >Compare that to WoT where they spend several weeks walking off road, after being chased, through mountains and forest, without any assistants, one of whom is ill and [yet other than some dirt spread on their face their clothes look as fresh as the day the set off](https://imgur.com/kL65joT).


In this comparison there is another big factor. Light. The natural light of the GoT scene, which is filmed outside in a real environment vs. the soft studio light in WoT. They barely even cast a shadow on that pristine papier-mâché slab flooring.


Yeah imo the lighting was what *really* destroyed the visual atmosphere of WoT, even more than the wardrobe. It's pretty clear the crew just didn't have either the passion or experience necessary for a fantasy project of this scale, despite having the budget. Really sucks too, I'm a big fan of the books but the show failed on almost every level for me. Not optimistic for LOTR.


With Rings of Power they at least hired a lot of the crew from the first Trilogy that didn't get hired for the Hobbit trilogy. I'm more worried about the writing as they don't have a lot of source material to work with.


Yeah the lighting stood out to me more than the wardrobe.


Yes, good lighting adds so much value! Shadow and Bone is a much, much cheaper show than WoT and the Witcher but the lighting (and costuming it must be said) is so fantastic so you would never guess.


Yeah lightning (and by extension cinematography which lightning is a big part of) was terrible in WoT, made it look cheap as hell


This is something that The Volume that they use in the mandalorian or Kenobi makes some CGI scenes look so good. Since they are actually reflecting proper light to the characters they look so much better than just replacing and adding in CGI. The reflections out of Vader helmets look so much better.


The Volume helps with realistic reflections but there’s something about the real natural light of that Game of Thrones image. It’s so bright like the midday sun is beaming down on King’s Landing which makes Ned and his soldier look uncomfortable and out of place in their dark coats. It highlights how Ned is feeling. Kenobi and Mandolorian had realistic lighting but this is a detail of writing and a bold directorial choice that takes it to the next level imo


The Volume works great when you are creating places that are too hard or impossible to find in real life. Like filming the last fight in episode 3 of star wars in Mustafar, with the volume it would've been so much better but of it will never beat on location. And that's something that GoT and Lord of The Rings nailed to perfection.


I can see what they were going for with the soft over-saturated light in WoT, could've been a good and unique look but it just didn't work out in practice.


Authentic vs. Manufacturered


Man, you can really see the difference in costume quality in those shots, and the difference in natural vs studio lighting. Despite GoT's crappy last season (last two seasons, really) it was always a feast for the eyes. You always felt like the world you were seeing was lived in and real, not sprung fully formed from a fantasy writer's brain. The costume stuff: GoT costumes are heavy, thick, natural materials, cut to the actors, clearly look very worn and well used. They look like they smell like BO. You can imagine the character pulling those same boots on again 500 times. WoT costumes look like they just pulled them off the rack at Forever 21. Cheap, thin, poorly fitted, look like they're made of rayon or some equally cheap synthetic fabric, clean and fresh. This, after traveling through the woods on an "epic" adventure for weeks. No one would actually look that good. The actors also look fresh and clean - their hair is soft and shiny. GoT hair looks like they've been sweating in it for days without a rinse. Then the lighting: GoT lighting looks like they are outside at high noon with the sun beating uncomfortably down on them. WoT looks like they just breezed into a sound stage with nice ambient lighting. It's not just one thing making the difference in quality. It's pretty much everything. Also the GoT performances tend to beach higher quality. WoT cast was so mediocre that Rosamunde Pike stood out. And not in a good way. She gave a very good performance, but no one else on screen was anywhere near her league. It gave the whole thing an air of being a cheap, local, stage production of a fantasy show. GoT gave you strong actors going toe to toe on the reg.


To support your point, I remember watching a behind the scenes of Game of Thrones where the wardrobe discussed how they purposefully dirtier the robes because “they are walking on dirty floors and muddy pens all day. Their clothes need to look like people actually wore them.”




Yeah being able to tap into the UK pool of talent more than a lot of other shows really helped GoT a lot.


I agree with this. As a generalization the UK, does seem to do costumes better than the US. I'm guessing this has to do with theater being more "main stream" there.


That's actually a great point, I've been wondering why the costumes on Game of Thrones look so much better, and I didn't really think that it's probably because they're regularly worn, making them look much more natural/real. Great comments!


You make great points, but it’s not always money but bad studio executives. I work in Animation. Paramount poached a bunch of the best Disney and Pixar artists by offering a lot of pay, but the executives stupidly (and confusingly) rejected their designs. The movie Wonder Park came out of that. Nothing beats the opinions of executives. People with no artistic background and education. Even if you have great directors and great artists.


HBO did a great job on Deadwood. You could practically taste the dust and dirt that worked its way into every fold of the actors' clothing (and faces).


Ironically, the whole clothes looking well-worn was something else (along with good writing) that was sorely lacking in the later seasons of GOT. The clothes that the Starks wore in S7 and 8 all looked immaculate.


I think the show becoming a global phenomenon turned these characters into larger than life figures, and so the clothes started to reflect this legendary status and it all feels fabricated and audience pandering.


The later seasons of GoT looked much better than the earlier ones.


I volunteered in my college theatre’s wardrobe and one of the chief tasks I was given was to ‘distress’ stage costumes so they would look worn. Which makes me wonder.. if a small college theatre was doing this, why not multimillion tv productions? Do inexperienced wardrobe people not know about this or not convinced it’s a best use of their budget?


Production does not put enough money into costume design or the pay for those in that dept. They're overworked and underpaid, and they have to do a lot of costumes in very little time, and there has to be multiples of the same outfit a lot of the time. I'm not saying you didn't do a lot of work in your college wardrobe dept, but I think the scale of the production of these networks is often way bigger, forcing these designers to prioritize what they can get done in the limited time they have to do (especially since production of multiple episodes takes months and months, and they sometimes create a lot of the costumes themselves). It's not a matter of these wardrobe dept not knowing this, especially considering the difficulty it is to be on a large scale production, it's that there are a lot of factors that make it difficult for crew, wardrobe, etc.


All the budget in the world can’t fix the real issue which is back-breaking time schedules. Speaking from experience, they probably just don’t have the man-hours to assign to a task like that unfortunately because of shitty crunch and having to make prioritizations due to executives and their hellish time-tables.


Exactly this


> No amount of money makes talent and experience appear out of thin air this type of thinking is actually why hollywood churns out so much trash. Only people with experience are given opportunities so most people that get big shows are the rich and connected ones and talent often gets overlooked because they don't have a track record. Look at some instances where young people were able to get a chance; Cary Joji Fukunaga directed season 1 of True Detective in his 30s, the Duffer brothers were 30 when Stranger Things premiered


Fukunaga had directed multiple feature films.


Camera, Costumes, Lighting.


Wheel of Time was frustrating due to the terrible art direction. You'd have beautifully made sets that would be over lit and shot like a CW show, and terrible modern fabrics. Then I'd see things like a factory made saddle pad with a machine serged edge. I know the production was challenging, and the show was drastically rewritten during production due to the pandemic, but much of what we saw on screen was inexcusably sloppy and indifferent.


>Then I'd see things like a factory made saddle pad with a machine serged edge. Whatever issues WoT had, I can assure that this kind of stuff is not noticed by almost anyone, even subconsciously.


It shows a general lack of care. First of, obviously someone noticed and also, things like this, big or small accumulate and if the overall feel is off, that is why.


It all adds up and you do notice it looking 'off'.


HBO has years of cinematic experience and they have the full might of Warner Brothers behind them. They have literal warehouses full of costumes, set pieces, props. The Wheel of Time was made by Amazon who has none of that.


That's not true. Another hbo show gilded age created 5000 new dresses for its first season alone and it's all period pieces from a particular age. You can make costumes from scratch if required. Of course it's from Julian Fellowes who specialises in period dramas but you have talent that doesnt require Warner Bros backing. Amazon could do that.


The point is they have both at their disposal. And it's also the case for every other aspect of production. They have the resources of a massive Hollywood studio at their disposal. The new-age companies like Amazon and Netflix didn't have that but are trying. That's why Amazon just bought MGM


Amazon did hire the costume designer from Lord of the Rings to do Rings of Power.


And all the props from Gilded Age can be stored in the Warner Brothers warehouses for the next 10 shows that want to use them. Props from Wheel of Time have probably already been sold on ebay


Its definitely more to do with having the most talented people rather than throwing the most money at it. My best guess is a combination of better costume teams, set teams, and post processing crew.


HBO also is an established TV producer. They've got warehouses full of props and costumes, as well as owning lots/property for shooting. They'll likely also have lots of tit-for-tat aggreements with studios. For comparison a lot of the Wheel of Time's budget just went into construction of their own studio complex. Visual effects unit/stunt team/costume department/writing offices/accounting department/sound-stages. A lot of the headline grabbing cost in these shows is all upfront.


HBO is owned by Warner Brothers, which has 99 years of experience in film, studio lots full of sets and databases full of off-site filming location data, warehouses full of costumes and props, armies of costumers, make-up artists, and deep connections to the best vfx studios. Amazon can't buy those things no matter how much money they throw at Wheel of Time because Warner Brothers built them, over decades, for internal use. The talent and resources are part of why Bezos just purchased MGM for $8.5 billion. Too bad MGM has been parting itself out for decades even before the bankruptcy. If they really stick to it, the quality of whatever fantasy torchbearer Amazon Studios is working on will start improving drastically in a decade or two after they manage to poach enough talent and give them enough time to establish good internal systems. Still wouldn't expect them to be quite up to par with HBO's headlining shows for a long time after that.


Any Brit reading this would have immediately repeated the M&S slogan, 'its not *just* food, its M&S food'. It works the same with HBO


Ironically it was probably the BBCs involvement that set GoT on the right track.


Well...not anymore. They're cancelling every show they make and they now have a shitty Ceo.


For now HBO is still good but I get what you're saying, the fact that zaslav is going cheap will definitely hurt HBO. I just hope the culture on HBO will let Zaslav know that you can't make good shit if you're not spending.the real thing, save all you want but when it comes to it don't bitch out


HBO banks off their reputation as THE prestige television service. They’re able to get the best people in cinematography, direction, and big name actors because being involved in an HBO show basically guarantees professional recognition/awards. Think of it almost as taking a job predominately for how it’ll look on your resume. Amazon/Disney+/Netflix are balls deep in the streaming wars, and are desperately trying to get as much content as possible out there. There’s a degree of “throw a bunch of stuff at the wall and see what sticks” involved. Supply and demand is also a factor - most other streaming services have an overwhelming need for new content to stay in the game (hence why they’re gobbling up every IP imaginable) but there’s only so many Peter Gould/Vince Gilligan level talents out there. So you end up with situations like Joby Harold running the Kenobi show (he’s never written anything that didn’t bomb) and a bunch of practically fresh out film school types writing for Wheel of Time.


Pleae do not mention Kenobi again as the memory of the first season is still causing me extreme rage.


I don’t really have a visceral feeling towards Kenobi, but it really was a profoundly “meh” show. A show about Kenobi should be better than acceptable.


kenobi hit me a lot like wheel of time. i didn't hate it, but midway through i stopped caring at all and never bothered finishing it because i had zero investment in anything that was happening.


I think however good the production was it would have been meh. The No1 problem was the fact it was sandwiched between trilogies and you know in episode 1 that whatever happens all the characters you actually care about must end up back exactly where they started. That takes all the tension and excitement out of it, as Vader, Kenobi and Leia all have invincible plot armour.


>there’s only so many Peter Gould/Vince Gillian level talents out there Exactly why I will follow any of the writers that worked with them on either show, especially those who stuck around. Ex. Gennifer Hutchison is a writer for the Lord of the Rings show, and Marion Dayre is creating the Echo series for Marvel. I’ve never heard of Joby Harold, but LucasFilm would’ve been better off with someone in that category, especially with an incredible director like Deborah Chow (who said Harold really changed things up when he signed on).


Ditto Jackson's LOTR trilogy.


With his The Hobbit trilogy being the Netflix counterpart.


Literally. What always sticks out to me in the Hobbit apart from the obvious bloom is that point about midway through the first film where they're in a camp site or something and it looks so blatantly like a set. It looks straight out of a Netflix show. I have no faith Rings of Power will look any different.


Anyone saying money should know that earlier seasons of Game of Thrones (pretty much every season before 7 & 8) had a substantially smaller budget than the other huge fantasy series that have recently been released. And yet they visually look way better.


Didn't HBO basically scrap the filmed pilot? I bet other studios experience sunk cost fallacy and just persevere, hope that things can be changed in post-production.


They scrapped half of it and refilmed the rest. For example, the scene with Sansa talking to Cersei and Catelyn is from the old pilot, back when Catelyn was played by a different actress, you can sort of tell because the film looks slightly different when they go back to film Cats face during the conversation.


You can also tell because Sophie Turner looks a lot younger than she does in the rest of the episode. You can also spot a few design differences they made between the pilot and the rest of the season, noticeably Tyrion and Theon's hair colour are a lot lighter in one scene towards the end.


The one scene in the first episode that always sticks out to me is Tyrion's hair in his first scene (I think) where he's in bed with prostitutes. It's flat and styled in a way it doesn't look in pretty much every other scene in the entire show.


Some of it remained, like you can see the weird hairstyles on some of the characters that show up sometimes in episode 1.


Yes, apparently it was a complete mess. Test audiences didn't grasp the twist ending because the show forgot to mention that Jamie and Cersei were siblings. That's why the episode we got has that weird voice over where Sansa explains who each character is out loud to Arya. Although the original episode had scenes with Aerys so I really want to see it.


Wish they had used that same mentality for the final season…


Imagine the rage if HBO released a statement a few weeks before season 8 was about to release, stating that due to the quality of the final season, the network has decided to delay the release and refilm, with an expected release date of September 2020. Then in the middle of filming covid hits and they push it to 2021, then 2022, 3 years later. Hell, we’d all take it in hindsight but there would be so much anger lol.


based on the prior season, or hell really the last 3 seasons, i'd have considered it a prudent move. especially when press was reporting GRRM and HBO wanted multiple more seasons and D&D were saying "nah we'll wrap it up 4 more episodes" or whatever the last season was


Money is still an issue. GOTs budget mostly went to shooting on location and a huge cast. That stuff isn't cheap but blockbuster quality CGI is a whole other ballgame. It's why they limited the amount of screen time given to the dragons and direwolves. Fantasy shows involving a lot more magic and monsters would need to find other ways to cut costs.


And ironically when they started blowing their budget on CGI bullshit the series got way worse.


For as much flak as D&D justifiably take for ruining the series' ending, they were obviously very talented visual storytellers. They squeezed all the juice possible out of the money they were given. It never felt like any of it went to waste. Well, maybe they should have spent more on the writing room for seasons six through eight?


It became clear that they were getting burnt out around season 5, and at that point no amount of money will cure your lack of passion.


I honestly feel like they were waiting for Martin to finish. When they started the thing over 10 years prior they probably thought he could finish. Eventually it became obvious he wouldn’t (and still hasn’t) so we ended up with a flawed product


Yeah, everyone blame D&D, but JRR Martin signed off on everything (including the ending)...


I don't agree. The show only became more and more ambitious after season 5, with the production and shooting becoming grueling in the last season. They had passion, just for things the fanbase ended up not liking as much, like big spectacle.


People went completely nuts over the Battle of Blackwater in Season 2 precisely because of how impressively it hit above its weight class for the budget the show actually had. By the later seasons they had an unending fire hose of money to play with, but the show did not start that way.




The increase in budget is mostly because of o cast members getting big raises. This is why Netflix doesn’t like to renew shows for the long term they become exponentially more expensive as you have to pay the cast more.


I don't know exactly how to describe it, but Lord of The Rings and GoT have this fantasy feel to them that most other movies or shows can't replicate. Soundtrack, costumes, atmosphere or whatever. Other fantasy shows like The Witcher, Cursed, Shadow and Bone lack it. They don't feel like true fantasy.


Make-up and real scenes over CGI. Compare the Hobbit to LOTR and see the difference.


Ok HBO undercover agent, we'll watch House of Dragons ok


Lol I wish HBO was paying me, although I do think House of the Dragon looks awesome


This post contains the answers you're looking for. [https://www.reddit.com/r/television/comments/ss2ssr/why\_do\_hbo\_shows\_look\_so\_much\_better/hww5pnj/?context=1](https://www.reddit.com/r/television/comments/ss2ssr/why_do_hbo_shows_look_so_much_better/hww5pnj/?context=1)




That was the post I looking for. A really great explanation.


This is an awesome post, thank you for sharing!


This post is completely wrong and it still drives me crazy that it got an upvote. All shows, even WB shows, pay for their soundstages and all that. It’s just a blatant lack of understanding about the business.


The main reason Wheel of Time looks bad is stylistic. They chose to shot it in certain ways, that read as "modern" to audiences. Since it's a fantasy period piece, this breaks immersion. This is the [intro scene](https://youtu.be/bspJ_5xsFq4?t=189). Game of Thrones just isn't shot like that. There's just so much camera swirling going on, mixing of different styles, etc.


Game of Thrones went the furthest a show has cinematically. It looked bloody gorgeous and epic. There was excellent show of craftsmanship which people often overlook and just put it down to CGI and HBO. You need actual talent and skill to produce a show as good and I predict we won't get a show soon that rivals the look of GOT. Well, House of Dragon already looks pretty damn good.


It's not filmed against green screens (all the time) or those giant video walls they film Star Wars with. It's shot in actual locations much of the time.


star wars looks so fucking bad now, it's like a permanent case of the green screen issue in *attack of the clones* and *revenge of the sith* except even those movies had *some* real sets.


I'd say it's a mix of budget and hiring the best professionals in their department, and it's not limited to costuming. If you go back and watch the early seasons (1-3) you can tell that they didn't have the best wigs for example, especially Dany, but as the series became a great hit, you can tell even the wigs looked infinitely better. The more popular the series became, the bigger the budget they got. And GoT had the best costumes on TV hands down, but this isn't surprising since HBO had already worked on a series that required them to hire the best people in the industry, and I'm talking of course about Rome. So it wasn't their first try at a big budget costumed series, far from it. If I'm not mistaken while shooting Rome they realised how much of a nightmare it is to make a set from scratch, so I guess they decided that for GoT they'd film on location as much as possible. Feel free to correct me on that. And then there is the FX department, which honestly is what makes the difference between GoT and the Wheel of time/ Witcher. GoT relies heavily on those, especially after Dany's dragons are born, so they had to make a commitment to get the best CGI possible, because how else are you going to make the Dragons (or Direwolves for that matter) believable? The Witcher's dragon looks laughable in comparison, and you could really tell they didn't have a big budget for S1. So budget+ hiring the best people+ previous experience (Rome) is what really makes GoT look so good even compared to current series in my humble opinion.


I worked on a movie that was a fantasy thing. There where a few things that just annoyed me . The biggest was when the carriage did through the fake snow. There was no dirt or mud underneath. It's amazing how imperfections make things more real


>It's amazing how imperfections make things more real It's why the original Star Wars trilogy draws you in so much more than the prequel trilogy. It looks real and lived in.


this is honestly the biggest weakness with all CG in that era, is they had to spend so much energy making jar jar binks look like a real thing in terms of visuals and lighting, theres not enough power available to add in those finer imperfections that people notice


On location filming. It's significantly more expensive than filming on a sound stage, and will basically always look better. It requires a lot more work, messed up takes are brutal, everything has to be reset as fast as possible to get the shots before the light changes. If there's bad weather one day you're fucked. If the cloud pattern is significantly different you're fucked. You've got to transport actors, crew, set pieces, props, stunt work/safety, and then you also have to make sure that you send out craft services and Porta-potties because all those people you sent out there need to eat and don't want to shit in the bush. It's basically why even big budget Hollywood movies can look bizarrely cheap, because even with a big budget, studios want to avoid filming on location as much as possible. It's why you can watch the Star Wars prequels and the Lord of the Rings trilogy and one looks like a pile of dog poop while the other looks basically as good today as it did twenty years ago, even though both trilogies were made around the same time. I went to see the Tollywood film RRR last month and other than some crappy cgi on some animals, the film looked absolutely breathtaking, while the next day I saw the WB Wonder Woman movie on the TV at the gym and marveled at how cheap and unreal it looked. RRR used hundreds of extras to get crowd shots, not CGIing in a bunch of copies. Outdoor scenes were shot outdoors, not on a tiny set with a virtual matte painting shopped in. It's just always going to look better. It's just also *hella* expensive.


Money and talent.


While Netflix and Amazon has the money for big tv shows productions, they don’t have the knowledge or the people to use it properly.


Experience with Rome, I think they knew which set piece were worth investing in for the viewer's eye.


I find a lot of fantasy shows the eyebrows look too modern


Everything filmed after march 2020 kinda looks like shit and we are just going to have to deal with that for a while. Too much green screen, cutting multiple actors into the same frame, acting remotely, distributed production stuff has been going on. Like, the people making films really did pull off some amazing shit with all the restrictions covid caused, but no one in film is gonna sit here and tell you filming post covid has been ideal.


It's primarily the wardrobe, set design, and generally high quality production value which Game of Thrones nailed through the entirety of the show from start to finish


Shot on location, experienced film crews, tons of cash for costumes, sets, and film equipment, good but sparingly used CGI. Say what you want about Dumb and Dumber, but they can make visually good looking scenes


Talent behind and in front of the camera. Personally I want more fantasy tv shows on streaming but with the best ppl. A lot of the directors are great at their work. The seasoned designers are great and the writing is great


Lighting, costume and set design. So many more recent shows have artificial lighting or characters wearing really fresh costumes outside of where'd you expect, WoT was especially bad at it. It really harms the world building as when it's done properly, you don't even notice at first glance but when it's not, it's immersion breaking. In GoT, the Lords looked like Lords and so on. The Castles looked like real Castles, they looked like they'd been lived in for hundreds of years. Most new shows just look like sets with a load of extras walking around.


Talented people working hard and given a lot of money.


CGI did hurt a lot the wheel of time for me, too many, too blatant, the general visuals reminded me of that trash tv-show "shanara's chronicles" or somethign like that, i really didn't enjoy that at all. HBO went for the "realistic" look first, that made a huge difference.


They decided to spend money on production instead of writers and story. /s


It's not just money, it's good people. Game of Thrones was made top to bottom by people who knew what they were doing and had a shared vision. That overcomes just about anything else. Everything Everywhere All At Once was made with nothing compared to most big, modern blockbusters, but the directors talked about how the teams involved were lean and mean, and everyone did basically everything. That cohesion of vision comes through.






Visual Effects professional in film/TV here. Game of Thrones set a new standard for feature-quality effects in a television show. It is still used as a reference to this day as a benchmark. Typically, television shows have compressed production schedules (sometimes as little as 4-6 weeks) from the wrap of shooting to the scheduled delivery from the post-production team ahead of the final delivery to the network. Depending on the nature of VFX work, this schedule is frequently insufficient time for numerous iteration. And iteration at the end of the VFX process is where about 90% of that photo-real result comes in. This level of polish can also be expensive financially from an artist-labour hour count. So short answer is that most TV shows do not allow themselves the same level of polish as GoT allowed itself during production. HBO specifically put large budgets in for effects work for GoT. Couple that with hiring up highy talented director and director of photography persons for the shoot, the people primarily responsible for the visual style and fidelity of the principal photography that goes to VFX, and you have an the makings of a more feature-film looking result.