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If you're going to work with highly compressed footage you should get it into a lossless or nearly lossless format as quickly as you can. Try PhotoJpg or Animation Codec.
>Is this because I'm using the trial version,
Yes. As duly noted on the download page, all support for MPEG and derivatives is disabled in the trial version for licensing reasons.
Ahhh, thanks! I did see this, not on the download page, but via a link from that page:
The trial versions of Adobe After Effects® CS4, Flash CS4 Professional, Adobe Premiere® Pro CS4, and Soundbooth® CS4 software do not include some features that depend on software licensed from parties other than Adobe. For example, some codecs for encoding MPEG formats are available only with the full version of these products.
But it says "encoding" (I'm trying to import) and AVCHD isn't on the list of exportable formats. The confusing thing is that it just doesn't recognize the extension at all. It would be better if the trial version would say "not supported in trial version" when one attempts to open a .m2ts file. I do have Premiere Pro CS4 already and it has no trouble with these files -- it would be nice if the AfterEffects trial would just use the already-licensed installed Codecs.
Thanks again for clearing this up.
Yepp, the phrasing is not ideal, but since the same modules and plug-ins are responsible, they disable everything. It's eitehr all or nothing, as unfortunate as this is.