Retaining all your shadow detail is pretty important; without it you’re left with muddy or grainy video clips. Working on your clips in post can recover some of that shadow detail, but there are a lot of different techniques that you can use. If you haven’t developed your own method for recovering shadow details yet, there’s a great tutorial from Miesner Media that goes through a step-by-step tutorial for recovering lost shadow contrast in Blackmagic Design's DaVinci Resolve 14.
In the tutorial, Theo Miesner tries to recover a serious amount of shadow detail inside Davinci Resolve 14, hoping to save save a clip that he shot on a Blackmagic URSA Mini Pro 4.6K for a trailer. Note, that Miesner shot with a higher bit depth in order to pull off his correction, so if you’re shooting on an old Canon Rebel T3i, his tutorial will likely not work for you.
The shot starting out has a pretty low shadow contrast. “You can't really see what going on,” Miesner says. “There’s nothing really that’s the focus of the shot.” Having little detail in your shadows causes your clips to look flat and your key subjects begin to blend in with the rest image, which doesn’t make for a very eye-pleasing, or professional, aesthetic. So it’s key to retain as much detail as possible.
Miesner begins his shadow recovery using Resolve’s ‘Scopes’ and ‘Curves’ panel. Adjusting the curves will give the areas he’s selected more contrast. However, as Miesner adjusts the curves to regain some of the clip’s shadow detail, it becomes much noisier — but that’s nothing he can’t fix using the temporal noise reduction effect.
After playing around with his shadows and highlights a little more, he is left with a fairly good-looking image that’s way more pleasing and interesting than what he started with.
Again, there are many different methods and techniques that you can use regain the shadows in your clips, but if Miesner’s way of doing it speaks to you, try it out for yourself.