@msurguy On your issue of "stepping" with long animations, I confirmed that due to the slow update and low resolution of color (127) then yes, you can see steps.
You can confirm yourself by having a simple sketch that sets color, delay(1000), set the same color -1 on any value. Mixed colors are better at hiding it, but pure colors (Red, Green, or Blue) are horrible.
I believe its FastLED has a dither support; where they blend one channel at a time between a single increment. Basically if you blend from 127,127,127 to 128,128,128, it will give you three steps, 127,127,128, then 127,128, 128, and finally 128,128,128.