MY EARLIER POST ON VIDEO SOFTWARE prompted some questions -- what did I get? My problem is that although I've got an old version of the pro Vegas Video, and Adobe Premiere Professional, neither will edit the AVCHD files from the new Sony HD camera. So I ordered Vegas Movie Studio 8, which is under a hundred bucks. It's likely to do everything I need -- Helen isn't planning to make any documentaries in the near future -- and the interface is the same as the big-brother version of Vegas so it's familiar. In the unlikely event I need to work on Adobe, I can always save the files in some other format and reopen them there. Note that neither Final Cut Pro HD nor Final Cut Express HD will handle AVCHD files yet, so if you use those platforms you might want to hold off on buying an AVCHD camera. (iMovie '08 will handle AVCHD, I'm told, but only after a fairly laborious transcoding process. My version of iMovie, which is still '06, doesn't recognize the files.)
I haven't done much with it yet, but it opens the AVCHD files fine, and working with them is quite familiar to me, since I've used Vegas before. Some people don't like Vegas, but I find it quite intuitive -- the first thing I ever did with it was this trailer for Helen's film, and I found it easy and fun.
Although I'm pretty happy with the camera, and the software is familiar, my advice to people looking for a camera for the holidays is to go with something a bit farther back from the cutting edge. Looking around at the message boards, etc., I'm finding that there are still a lot of teething problems with the AVCHD format. This isn't an issue for me, really, but it might be for you.
UPDATE: Reader John Gibson emails: "Apple just released Final Cut Express 4. It handles DV, HDV, or AVCHD,
with the ability to edit all three formats in a single timeline. Price is $179.99 at Amazon."
Huh. I just asked at the Apple store last week and they didn't know anything about it. But you're right, here it is. Says it doesn't ship until next week, though.