I'm aware that experiences with video editing software can vary from user to user, but on my installation and with my source material, there seems to be a major problem with AVCHD 1080i material which was fine in PE7.
I'm running it on a Windows XP SP3 Q9300 system with 3GB of RAM. Display adapter is Nvidia GeForce 8600GT.
The system has a number of NLEs installed include Nero 9, Power Director 8, and Studio 14. Source material comes from Panasonic GH1 and SD5 devices. These produce AVCHD files in 1080i and 720p (the GH1) and 1080i only (the SD5). The other NLEs on the system work well with the source material and the hardware is perfectly capable of handling it with no special preconditions.
The PAL-AVCHD-Full HD 1080i 25 project preset seems to be the one which is closest to describing these files, so that's what I'm using.
Using the "organise" button, I click "get media" and then "PC files and folders" - this opens an "add media" dialog which seems to be locked onto an arbitrary folder in my system, regardless of where I last added media from.
I then navigate to a folder containing some test files from the GH1 in a mixture of 1080i and 720p. It's a pity that PE8 can't intelligently navigate to folders containing AVCHD files like another NLE I have can do - it's necessary to manually drill down to the "Stream" folder.
The files get displayed with their thumbnails quite promptly, no problem there.
I drag the first clip (GH1 1080i) to the timeline and play it. Unfortunately, the quality in the preview window is deeply unpleasant. The test file shows a large LCD TV in closeup, surrounded by some grocery packages (to assist in evaluating resolution from the printing on them) and my garden can just be seen through the window behind the TV. Playing the 1080i file, there is no problem with parts of the image which do not move during the shot, but the image on the TV set jumps and blocks, and likewise foliage moving in the garden behind. The other NLE's on my system have no problem playing this file from the timeline - and nor does Premiere Elements 7. So it's hard to conclude other than there's something broken in PE8.
I wondered whether turning on the new "background rendering" option might help, but that takes so long to work that it's simply unusable - at least ten minutes to render this one minute clip - and having completed the background render, the replay is still just as bad. On the other hand, rendering a preview of the work area is tolerably quick - not realtime, but not half speed either - certainly nothing like 10th speed. (Curiously, at the end of that preview render, I see a message "Activating component".) And now normal quality replay for the clip is obtained.
It gets weirder. I now add a 720p clip beside the first one (which was 1080i) and that plays fine right away. You'd think that it would be more likely not to play, given that it's on a 1080i timeline - and the 720p clip is a genuine 50fps one. And in Premiere Elements 7, the 720p clips wouldn't play and in fact tended to freeze the program if placed on the timeline.
So in PE8, the 1080i clips that played in PE7 do not play on the timeline, and the 720p clips that did not play in PE7 do play in PE8 - unless I 'manually' render the work area first, which is not a step required in other apps. I'm not sure that I can count that as progress.
Adding a 1080i clip from the Panasonic SD5 also exhibits the same problem - very poor quality unless the preview is rendered.
While on the subject of things that are broken, there's no option I can find to create a project preset, despite the 'help
file saying that it's possible (without specifying how...).
Also, when closing the program, the "Adobe Premiere Elements.exe" process continues to run, and it's necessary to go into the Windows Task Manager to kill it.
I've not explored any further with the program - unless I can find a way of getting it to do the simple thing of playing clips on the timeline without having to render them, it's not worth the bother. I'm now going to go through the folders where my footage is, to delete the ".xmp" files that PE8 has created there for each clip in the folder....