Illuminating Why Dark Video Looks so Bad

What's with this blocky, banded mess?

Tom Scott, known for his informative, entertaining videos on everything from the longest road in the world to video tech comes to us with a new video demystifying why we get color banding in the shadows of video. 

One thing that's interesting that Tom didn't really delve into is that you can see this banding in photos too if your JPG settings aren't quite high enough, and the reason is the same as well. The fact we use 8-bit color as a video standard means that we only have 256 shades of red, green, and blue each, meaning that out of the trillions and trillions, almost countless amount of colors that exist, we have a very limited number embedded into our color and video standards.

What I like about Tom Scott's videos is that he always seems to go a step further. Instead of just saying "color banding is caused by lack of colors," he delves deep into why the shadows are hit the hardest, compression, dithering, and even human perception.

What did you think of the video? Have you ever experienced banding in your shots? If so, how did you deal with it? Sound off below.

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2 Comments

Dan Cantero's picture

What a brilliant way to explain this. Next time I'm asked about this I'll just forward the link to this article. Thanks for posting.

Jeremy Strange's picture

I didn't know this, that makes a lot of sense. Thanks for sharing!