I have a background layer that is a gradient generated from the ramp effect. Right in AE I could see that the shades were "banding", so I tried increasing the composition to 16 and 32 bits, but this didn't seem to help it. I added some grain and exported. the result didn't seem to bad but my scrutinizing eye could see some banding still going on, but probably not detectable to the average person, so I imported into FCP to add audio, finished with that, exported, then dropped the file into MPEG Streamclip to be converted to a .mp4. When i watched this version (at 90% quaility) there is a REALLY noticeable line between 2 shades of color. I added even more noise in FCP, but this hasn't helped much, and now there is a really yucky amount of noise which isn't doing anything.
I should of mentioned earlier that the file was a ProRes out of AE until it went to MPEG Streamclip.
Am I missing something here? Could it have to do with the ramp effect?
Well, you're still compressing it to H.264 in the end, do you not? There will always be some banding. It's inherent in the format. For everyting else you might be overdoing that grain thing. Keep it subtle, but make sure that the noise specks actually have a certain size to them. It's that balance that makes the whoel thing work - the grains need to be subtle, but large enough to cause additional sub-blocks being produced in adjacent blocks. There's just no easy way to get perfect output with a specific setting...
I guess it could be my display (im on my macbook pro), but it doesn't seem like a normal banding issue. I know to expect banding with H264 compression, but there is such a harsh contrast between the two shades. I drew a rectangle over the problem area.
In the meantime i'll try to adjust grain settings and see if I can come up with something that works.