Quick Tip: Remove Banding in After Effects / Premiere Pro
Have you ever wondered what those pesky lines or patterns are which appear once you try adding multicoloured gradients to your project? It’s a colour issue called banding. And can be extremely frustrating, with it’s distracting and ugly presence, making it seem like an error in your project. One of the main issues with banding lines (circles) is that it reduces the overall appeal of your project and makes the quality of the work look worse.
You tend to discover colour banding after exporting or rendering your project. And it appears due colour information being lost during the compression process. All of the colours required to create a perfectly smooth gradient are simply too much to include when compressing and exporting into a video file, so you end up with these horrible banding lines instead!
But don’t worry as there are a few methods to avoid banding. The most simple solution is to change your Colour Depth from 8bpc (bits per channel) to 16bpc. This basically allows you to work with a vastly greater amount of colours.
To change your colour depth in After Effects simply Alt & Click on this button in your Project Panel:
And if you’re working in Premiere Pro, it’s a little bit different, but when you come to exporting your video you should see a little box to tick which will render your project at the highest possible colour depth (bpc). Don't mistake this for the maximum bit depth in your sequence settings, as this will only give you a preview of what it will look like, and will be overridden by the export options if you don't tick it. It is a great way however to check what the banding will look like, but it will slow down your Premiere Pro project.
Rendering at a higher colour depth can increase your render time and more importantly your file size. Also, depending on what codec you choose to render with, it can sometimes compress the colour depth much lower and if you’re uploading to web (Youtube, Vimeo, etc), during the uploading process your video will be automatically compressed back into 8bpc. So that annoying colour banding appears yet again. Now, if this does occur there’s another solution you can use.
If you apply a simple noise plug-in effect to your project, but set it so low that you can’t actually see it and it doesn’t affect the quality of the final result (say at around 0.5 to 0.8%), this basically forces the compressor into life due to all the additional information, so it works overtime. And in doing so helps render all the additional colours in your gradient, therefore heavily reducing the banding lines.
This is something you can do in any editing software; After Effects, Premiere Pro, Final Cut, etc. All these programs include a default noise plug-in.