Apple brings AVCHD support, ability to work in both SD and HD on same timeline, to Final Cut Express 4

Final Cut Express 4 was released this morning by Apple with the company calling it a “significant upgrade” with support of AVCHD (only on Intel-based Macs) and the ability to mix SD and HD content on a single timeline.

The addition to Apple’s award-winning Final Cut Pro 6 has a newlow price of $199. Final Cut Express 4 also can import iMovie ’08 projects, and gives users access to hundreds of sophisticated FxPlug cinematic effects and filters.

“Almost a million digital filmmakers have made Final Cut their editing application of choice,” said Rob Schoeben, Apple’s vice president of Applications Product Marketing. “With the introduction of Final Cut Express 4, Apple makes it easy for anyone to join the rapidly growing community of Final Cut editors worldwide.”

The new Open Format Timeline in Final Cut Express 4 allows users to mix and match DV, HDV and AVCHD material, all in realtime. Supporting both 1080i and 720p HD resolutions, Final Cut Express 4 automatically performs the necessary scaling, cropping and frame rate adjustments. When starting projects from scratch, the new simplified setup automatically configures everything based on the first clip dropped on the Timeline.

Fifty new FxPlug filters, including Soft Focus, Vignette and Light Rays, with hundreds more available from a rapidly expanding FxPlug developer community, are also in the mix. And with enhanced audio controls, users can automatically raise any clip to its maximum level without distortion using the new Soft Normalize and Gain controls.

Final Cut Express 4 also features LiveType 2, which provides an intuitive environment for creating dynamic and fun animated titles and includes an extensive library of animated fonts, textures, templates and effects.