I went to a Sony Style store yesterday to see how iMovie ’08 actually performs with hard-drive based camcorders (I don’t currently have one of these to test with). After convincing the staff there that I was legitimate, and agreeing that I would delete any footage of the store that I shot with their camera (WTF?), I captured a few minutes of video using an HDR-SR5 model.
It took a bit for the staff helping me to find a dock to plug the camera into (apparently putting a USB port on the camera itself is too much work, which means you need to cart the dock around wherever you go if you want to offload your video to a computer; again, WTF?). But once it was connected to my MacBook Pro, I put the camera into its Computer mode, launched iMovie ’08, and the clips showed up in the Import window as advertised.
The HDR-SR5 stores video in the AVCHD format, and iMovie just imported it to a new “event” in the library. I located the files on disk and saw that iMovie also transcoded the clips into AIC (Apple Intermediate Codec) for editing, just as iMovie does with HDV footage.
So, iMovie ’08 does finally support importing footage from these HDD and DVD cameras. (Well, to some extent. See this camera compatibility page at Apple for details; it notes that DVD cameras which store video as AVCHD aren’t supported, for example.) Now, whether you want to edit it in iMovie ’08 is another story; it really is a different program than what we’re used to. But I suspect (and forgot to test before I left the store) that you could take those AIC-formatted .mov files and import them into iMovie HD 6 if you wanted.