What is Banding?

Banding in an Image or a Video means, that bands for where a smoother Gradient should be.

Image of a sea with red sky without bandingImage of a sea with red sky without banding

Why is banding happening?

Banding happens only because of a lack of information in the Image.

Simply the more colors are in the image the smoother the gradients are.

Gradient from black to white on the left side compressed to 8-Bit, on the right side compressed to 16 colors.

This image shows a black to white Gradient on the Left side within an 8-Bit Color space, and on the right side I reduced the colors to 16.

But the Image is actually way more interesting than it seems at first.
Because I didn’t pick the colors. Photoshop did.
And what you can see is, that the Bands are the smallest in the gray area and they getting bigger in the bright and dark areas.
This shows, that most image compressing algorithms capture more details in the medium bright areas.

fix banding after Image Export in Photoshop

Export for web

The majority of people still use the Export for Web (Legacy) feature to optimized images for the Web.
Just don’t it has Legacy in the name for a reason.
You can either use WebP, which is limited to 8-Bit but has some features to make banding less noticeable and has also some benefits when it comes to SEO since it was developed by Google. And it is supported by every current browser besides KaiOS Browser which I never heard about (You can check here, by which browser WebP is supported).
Here is an article about, how to export WebP directly out of Photoshop.
 
In the near future, it may make sense, to use AVIF, which is even more efficient than WebP.
But they are not supported by every major Browser (as you can see here).
But if that should change, you can convert your Images at their Website. www.avif.io.

Normal Export

If you have banding after exporting and image the normal way, it is either, because you exported it as a JPEG which “only” supports 8-Bit, or you accidentally switched from 16-Bit or 32-Bit mode to 8-Bit Mode.

fix banding after Video Export out of After Effects, Premiere Pro, Media Encoder

If you have banding after Exporting a Video, the Problem is the Color depth.

In most video formats, the standard Color depth is 8-Bit. Which is enough for most of the Videos, but there are always some Videos, which can cause problems. Especially Videos with a lot of dark colors have this issue.

There are a lot of video Formats, but I only use 4 which are QuickTime, H264,H265 and WebM I don’t really see a reason, to use anything else.

Screenshot After Effects Exporting in Quicktime Export Settings select Billions of Colors.

When it comes to QuickTime, you can just switch in the depth menu from 16.7 Million colors to a billion colors. When it comes to QuickTime, you should pick that in general, since it is not a format meant for final output.

h264 doesn’t support more than 8-Bit, which is the reason you should switch to Hvec (h265) in this case.

If you have Hvec selected you can switch from Main to Main10 which give you a 10-Bit output which is more than enough.

Fix Banding if you got an Image with Banding in Photoshop

If you got a Photo with Banding already in it because likely someone else f*cked up you can take advantage of the fact, that banding only happened in areas of the Image with gradients.

To do that, just select either the part with the banding in it or without it. Personally, I like t use the Quick Selection Tool for something like that.

If you are Donne, Press Ctrl/command + J to Copy the selected on a new Layer

Hold Ctrl/command and click on the new Created Layer, to get the same selection again. Now select the Original Layer, Click on Select>Inverse to inverse your selection and Press Ctrl/command + J again.

Now you have the Original Layer, a Layer with the Part without banding, The Part with Banding and the Original Layer. If not, put it in this order.

Now select the Layer with the Banding and Click on Filter>Blur>Gaussian Blur and set it strong enough to completely remove the banding.

After that, hit on okay.

Leave A Comment