Are you by any change looking at your rendered files in Quicktime ?
What version of AE ? Are you on a Mac or PC ? What version of the OS ? Can you procide us a sample file showing the gray blacks ?
Also, what are the codec of your imported footage ? Do you see them black inside AE and only grayish after export ?
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The color being represented is pure black, so monitor calibration can't be the answer.
Why not? You are making a mess of your Gamma values and the differences you see are at least in part a result of missing calibration as well as some formats being Gamma tagged and others not. This extends to both imported footage and its interpretation as well as output. That aside, for broadcast at SD resolutions there is no pure black - the old rules of broadcast safe colors still apply and usualyl that means the you only get a dark grey. On top of it, many CoDecs stil lassume these limited ranges and will equally compress the color range to fall within these specs. So in summary, the behavior could be perfectly correct. You are just not providing enough info to make any sense of what you are actually doing.
I'm sorry guys, I clearly didn't put enough thought into this issue. Like I said, black levels are a hallmark of somebody who doesn't know what they're doing.
I'll calibrate and research further into formats. Thank you again for the help.