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Rendering Gradients in After Effects

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Lisa Mayer
Rendering Gradients in After Effects
on Apr 12, 2012 at 8:33:36 am

Hi everybody,

I'm currently working on a project where I used several gradients in the background (I know not the best idea, but they look so nice). I created my project in 16bit and quite obviously the result, when rendering it in H264 8 bit, was devastating. OK ... Gradients that look nice in 16 bit don't look nice in 8 bit - I might have thought about that in the beginning but anyway ...

I turned my project to 8 bit, changed all the values, added some noise and got a decent result again: at least in my AE viewport. But here comes the clue: When rendering it (even with a high bitrate into a H264 file) the ugly steps in the gradient reappeared. Using a 8bit png sequence solved the problem but as the video is going to be uploaded to vimeo etc I can't rely on that.

I really think I'm lacking some concept here: If those steps in the gradients don't result from the fewer nuances in 8bit pictures and turning up the bitrate in H264 won't do a thing, how can I get rid of them.

Please don't tell me not to use any gradients, I know that this would be the easier way, but there has to be some solution to this!

Greez, Lisa


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Nurbek Sagynbaev
Re: Rendering Gradients in After Effects
on Apr 12, 2012 at 2:26:15 pm

Here is what you can try:

Export 16 bit AE project as 16 bit TIFF sequence. Add some noise (aaround 0.3 will do fine) to every frame in Photoshop. Convert 16 bit TIFFs to 8 bit TIFFs in Photoshop. Import new sequence into AE and render the project as H.264 movie.

PS: You can record an action for converting 16 bit TIFF files to 8 bit, add noise, save as new files.


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Lisa Schmölzer
Re: Rendering Gradients in After Effects
on Apr 13, 2012 at 8:38:34 am

Nice Idea and it works as far as to the point where I have the 8bit tiffs (it also works if you just export 8bit tiffs directly from After Effects). The tiffs or pngs always look fine. BUT as soon as I render it as an H264 the ugly steps reappear!

I seem to be making some mistake when rendering it as a an H264. I'm rendering directly from After Effects (tried Premiere too, but it doesn't make any difference), where I'm using the native renderer which I set to H264, Millions of Colors, Profile Main, Level 5.1 and even 50 Mbps, Multiplexer MP4.


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Nurbek Sagynbaev
Re: Rendering Gradients in After Effects
on Apr 13, 2012 at 12:21:40 pm

H.264 is not the best codec if you want to preserve quality and detail. It also greatly depends on your nitrate settings.

Why don't you attach a couple rendered frames in 8 bit TIF format? I'll see if any trick can be done.


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Lisa Schmölzer
Re: Rendering Gradients in After Effects
on May 2, 2012 at 2:15:13 pm

Unfortunately I can't attach pictures.
But turning to a different codec somehow improved the problem. Thanks for your help anyway!


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