How to Remove Banding Artifacts in After Effects

October 12, 2009

In this episode, I show you how to remove the banding from your videos rendered in After Effects. Banding happens when video is compressed and similar colors get posterized. This undesirable, visible bands of color that can be distracting, and in some cases downright ugly. Check out the video for some techniques to prevent this banding from happening.

There are quite a few ways to remove color banding. Everyone seems to have their own formula. If you have have one, I would love to see in in the comments.

Tutorial Focus:  

  • That’s a great tip, thanks :). I’ve had this problem many times but I had no idea how to solve it, and I didn’t know how it was called so I couldn’t google it ;).

  • Thanks for these tricks! Since many experimental guys are working with closeups of ink and water these days I got a little hint:

    If you want to invert your ink footage (to make it look like smoke) make sure to use the invert filter in AE and do not use FC for it. The AE inversion is not completely banding-free but it is a lot(!) better than the other one.

  • Nice tip!
    I found that by using 16/32bpc helps with banding.
    Also if you are stacking effects on one layer it usually can rectify itself by shuffling the order of them.
    In some cases adding a glow can help..

    • I don’t suggest 32bpc if you don’t need it. It is a bit overkill and only produces good results if you are using 32bpc stocks, and even then it is quite specialized. 16 works great.

  • So… did you intend on keeping the Ramp Scatter at 100% while adding the 4-Color Gradient and/or the Add Grain effects? Are these in addition to the Ramp Scatter or instead of?

  • I’ve noticed a lot of TV Spots where they keep the banding in it…not sure if they didn’t know how to remove it or if that’s just the look they were going for.

    Either way, good tip as it’s one thing I’m always wondering about when working with the ramp effect in AE.

  • Very helpful. I’m a ramp fan and tend to run into banding problems a lot. Thanks!

  • Very nice tip, I had wasted a lot of time in the past trying to get rid of the gradient banding in AE or PS, I hate it. Not a total waste because that got me into learning about color spaces and video compression, but when you don´t know why something is happening and afecting your final work is really frustrating. I solve this by changing the 8bpc to 16 or 32 but I know is not a solution for the web. That 4 color gradient tip is really great, and the add grain too. I did find out that when rendering in 16bpc and then converting to H264 I get better results, specially HD video. Excuse my english and the length of the comment. cheers!

  • Cheers Nick, great tips!

    Just a quick addition, you may see banding depending on what monitor you use. I was working on a project on my old but calibrated CRT and it looked fine but when I transferred it to my MacBook I could see banding. I’ve been looking into buying a cheapish flat screen as a stop-gap until I can afford a decent one. In the last couple of days I’ve learnt quite a bit about the different panels used. Apparently the MacBook uses a TN panel which are only 6bit colour, they use dithering to display the full 8bit spectrum. TN panels are used almost exclusively in the lower end monitor market.

    Looks like I’m going to have to save up for that Apple Cinema Display!

    • Very good point. My monitor produces about 200% more banding than most CRTs or my laptop. Just keep in mind what the viewer will be using; if it is for the web a huge part of your audience is probably on macbooks.

  • By the way, does anyone have a tip to avoid the quicktime H264 gamma shift? It is specially anoying for motion graphics. The solution provided at video copilot and others only works for the quicktime player but in the web or other players the gamma shift is still there, at least for me. Maybe another codec for web recomendation?

  • any tips on removing banding artifacts introduced by pointlights other than adding grain?

  • Good tips. If you’re going to use grain, though, it can slow your renders. What I do is have a bunch of 1 second quicktime files with grain rendered on a 50% gray solid. I’ll import these into my project and set them to loop, then bring them into my comp set to overlay. Turn down the opacity to tone down intensity. Works great and barely any extra render time.

  • If you find a good combo with the grain filter you can always save it as a preset (.ffx file) Then you dont have to redo it each time you need it.

  • Nick, long time watcher, first time commenting. Love your video’s, your site is invaluable, you’ve changed the way I present my portfolio, website etc…

    For a nice alternative to the built in grain with AE, there’s a terrific preset/plugin available for free over at called fastfilmgrain, lots of options, renders fast, I use it all the time to help with banding and for integrating cg with live action.

    Thanks for everything Nick, please keep em coming!

  • Hi, thx for the tip…

    It’s cool because I found that Ramp Scatter trick just a few days ago… Great Quicktip. Keep up.

  • Oh thanks a lot Nick 🙂
    the Ramp scatter is very efficient 😉 It’s very cool to share these kind of tips

  • I love you. I just had this problem with one of my projects last week. Very good timing Mr. Nick

  • Great tip for the Ramp scatter. Usually I have found that a simple add monochrome noise at 4-5% works like a charm for me. But I love the different variations.

    • Thanks for the great video – I’m with Ed, I tend to use an adjustment layer with 3%-5% noise, which does a beautiful job, even at 8bit. It does, however, add size as Nick noted, and it pretty significantly increases rendering time. Worth it, though, if you have the time!

  • Hi Nick!

    Thanks man! Love your websites! More AE please, please…!

  • I thought I was just doing something wrong. I didn’t know there was a term (and way to stop) my poor renders.

    Great tutorials.

  • Thanks for the great tip, I could have used this on my last project, but it will be great to know for the future!

  • Hey it works in Photoshop as well! Thanks for the tip 🙂

  • I use Shake a lot, and I found that banding often occurs when doing a lot of processing on single color things like the alpha channel, especially things like blurs. I simply use a bit depth node before all the processing to set it to 16 bits then another one further down to set it back to 8 bits before comping it with the rest of the the tree fixes it nicely. I don’t know AE enough to know if you can make only certain layers or precomps 16 bit, but that may help too, so that you can do a lot of effects/processing on certain parts of a comp without having to make the whole thing 16 bit.

  • Your my hero! I effectively had this problem during the last one 5SP, and the only one solution which I found was to put my video in 16bits…

  • Thanks for the tips. The noise + gradient overlay improved the terrible banding I was getting on my most recent project.

  • some excellent advice in the comments too!!
    I have a question regarding the bit depth though:
    If I work in 16 or 32bit and render out a tiff sequence – import that sequence to make a .mov, does that project (with the image sequence) have to be at least 16 bit to make use of the benefits? Or will 8bit do?

    • I think that’s where things won’t help. 16bit helps get rid of banding already happening in your comp. But, I don’t think it will fix banding due to compression for broadcast.

  • Hi Nick, Great work.

    I was just curious, what monitor do you use and is it calibrated? How do you make sure everything will look right when it’s broadcast?


    • I think that no special monitor is needed.
      If you are not a pro that can buy a very hi system, you can´t calibrate an usual customer monitor (I mean, you can try it, the old adobe gamma, and that kind of calibration software can help, but are just usefull toys). A normal lcd is fine for me.
      In the other hand, the broadcast haven’t eyes. So if you can familiarizate with a graphical data representation, in example a vectorcope, have a good start point.

  • im having banding artifacts when rendering clips in c4d, especially when i used gradients for backgrounds, is there a way to remove those bandings??..

    i haven’t find any ways, i did explore for ways to solve it but i just can’t, im new to c4d, just a month, need help pease!!…thank you!=)

  • ‘Noise’ renders about a million times faster than grain, with the same results. Also, applying the ‘dither’ transition sets up a little bit of a de-band thing automatically. Just set the ‘transition completion’ to about 95% (or play with it).

    And if you want to take out a bit of the noise or grain without more banding apply a little bit of the ‘Gaussian Blur’. NOT FAST BLUR.


  • Hey Nick! Same problem last week with banding with ramp. I used ramp for background for motion dvd menu but after rendering to MPEG2-DVD almost full quality it looks horrible on TV. I will try to use this great tip to avoide banding. I will appreciate some adjusting graphic tip for TV screens. It just 8bpc and can’t use 16 or more. Thanks for sharing and keep your great tips!

  • Thanks for the tips!

  • excellent shit… the noise technique worked like a charm!!

  • Any ideas for creating a radial gradient that goes from black to transparent without getting banding?

  • Hi Nick,

    I’ve been checking your site every single day since I first found it last week, and I love it. Already feel like a veteran follower!

    Anyhow, I am studying at the University of Umeå in Sweden, Digital Mediaproduction, and we’ve been creating websites, movies and some other stuff for the webb for some time now, and one thing that I’ve always felt bad about is the principle of keeping quality down for speed at the web.

    This is true and also false.

    True because the average user spends less than 10 seconds on a website if the user is a “surfer” (surfer when you are not searching for something in particular, browser when you have something “vauge” you are looking for) and also because you have to be open to as many users as possible in the long run, when not everyone have access to a great internet connection, and so on.

    But, it is indeed false, since the web and all its content, in particular motion picturing, abstract art and music, is just another way of expressing yourself and thoughts and feelings. It is the most underestimated fact on the web, that quality have to be brought down, only because it is on the web. I would never produce a 640×480 video before a 1280×720, etc.

    I totally get your point with the web, and I maybe got outta hand here, but I just had to make my point, no other reason. 🙂

    Great site! Am looking forward for more content, and the next 5 second project!

    Regards, Niclas

    • Do you mean quality as far as the work? Or only in reference to how large it is? I got into motion graphics when MK12 only had 320×240 versions of their work on their site. I don’t think resolution has much to do with impact, actually.

  • Hey Gorilla,

    I already was familiar with the grain option, but the other ones are really good tips. Thanks a lot. Keep on going, because I really love this site and learn a lot.

    But I have 2 questions. 1 on topic and 1 not so on topic.

    Question 1: I have this video here:
    You see that there are a lot of artifacts in there. I could try the 16 bit option and maybe that will help, but do you have any other tips to make this better?
    The compressed H.264 version looks fine and on Youtube the video looks a bit better. It’s Vimeo that compresses it too much.
    I hope you have any ideas to make this better.

    Question 2: Is there a special reason why you have the color of the AE UI so bright?
    I prefer dark UI in After Effects, Cinema 4D and other software. But is bright better, or is it a personal choice?

  • awesome thanks so much. great to see all these different ways to handle this.

  • This is a really cool tutorial, except most people I’ve seen who own After Effects have Flash and it’s FLV encoder. This point is moot if that’s the case right? I would think one would export at the highest rez and then scale down during final compression.

    However, I’m curious about trying to use the same technique for bitmap movie clips in Flash. That would be great if it helps when you really have to squash images for banner campaigns.

    Thanks Nick!

  • Hey. Thank you for the tutorial, real help.. well just a little off course question. I really like you screen capture software, what is the name of it, if you could share it please 😀 thank you.

  • I would prefer to see slight bending than noticeable animated noise in the video.

  • Thanks Nick, your tutorials always come handy when you we don’t know what is happening with AE.

  • Thanks for the tips.

    You can also play around with linearizing your workspace in the Project settings window. A linear workspace will blend colors in a more natural way.


  • Hi Gorilla, this is very useful, thanks!
    I found that these helped, but didn’t really get rid of the banding altogether.

    Are there specific rendering settings you’d recommend?


  • Am currently working at 3am up against a deadline and I’ve got banding galore! Thanks Gorilla. Saviour.

  • ELLEN YARBROUGH May 8, 2013 at 11:33 am


  • Hi Gorilla. THanks a lot for all your free tutorials. I love it! . However the problem reappears when I decrease the opacity. (5%). Did you try it? I tested with color dark-blue & dark. Best regards. Phil

  • Saviour!! Always facing gradient issues for years without figuring out why!
    Am currently on a project now with banding problems and just stumbled on your tutorial just in time before Online session. Thanks Nick! You’re my idol!

  • this shit cray!

  • Don’t think anyone’s mentioned it, but forgive me if I’m mistaken. Another thing to keep in mind is that if you happen to be dynamically linking your comp to a Premiere sequence, make sure that the ‘maximum bit depth’ option is checked in your sequence settings.

  • That grain suggestion just saved me a lot of grief in a project.

  • I don’t know if someone has mentioned it, but lets say for this example you add noise to the layer. Put i up to 4%, leave color off and precomp the layer (move all attributes) and then freeze frame the comp, you’ll get rid of the banding and it renders much faster.

  • Nick, This is a funny frame, considering the title of the video at the bottom.

  • Man, it depresses me seeing all of these comments dating back to 2009…dang, life moves fast…

  • I recently was having major banding issues. This may not be the true answer but it worked for me.

    In your comp window hit that little RGB circles button just left of the Resolution drop-down, and try turning off Display Color Management.

  • Nick,

    I was asked to post this video to YouTube for my brother. It is a very old film that was converted to Video about 20 years ago and then more recently converted to DVD. It appears to have heavy rolling flicker/banding affecting the image quality. Can you advise how I could fix this with Adobe CC products. (PP or AE). I have tried the Anti flicker filter but that did not seem to do much and the very expensive plugin Flicker Free, also did not seem to work very well in demo mode. I certainly don’t want to pay for a plugin for this project, it was just a favour. But if I can improve with the tools I already have (Adobe CC), then would like to do so. Can you Help?

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