Part of the upcoming 2.48 release is controllable shadow intensity and color. Roland Hess, author of new book 'Animating with Blender', and coder of this new feature, explains all the ins and outs.
Usually the Blender development projects that I work on are a direct response to a production problem I've encountered. BlenderPeople created animation baking, the Floor Constraint, Visual Keying and Python API enhancements. The Beast birthed Sequencer and Action Editor selection method upgrades. One other problem I ran into during The Beast was shadow control, but didn't have time to address it in the sources during production. Often, I would get my light placement and intensity just right only to discover that shadows were just too dark in one or two places. As the balance between materials and lamps is tricky to get just right, I was loathe to start adding lamps (the standard method of fixing too-shadowed areas) or altering lamp intensity.
Wouldn't it be easier, and better for the overall shading and looked that you've struggled to craft, if you could just turn down the intensity of the shadow of the offending lamp?
Of course it would!
Now you can.