I was able to resolve the dark issue by referencing another discussion where it mentions that if you render to dnxhd that you should choose RGB and not 709 when exporting.
That did work, and the footage was lighter, but almost TOO light. It resembled the footage before I even made my corrections.
Here's the quick rundown:
I made a comp. In that comp I had three layers. One layer for was for noise reduction. I precomp'd that and moved it to a new comp. So now I have that precomp, in a comp, and all is well. I can see that the footage is denoised now (using remove grain) and I applied a simple curves effect to adjust the exposure.
I export and get the results above. What am I doing wrong? I cant figure it out. I am working in 16 bits. I have Adobe After Effects 2014 CC. One is too much. One seems to have little to no effect? What gives?