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Many students have trouble creating an empty movie clip when they are first trying to do it. The usual reason why you want an EMPTY movie clip is so that you can load external files (JPGs and SWFs) into it.
To do so, you create the empty clip, drag an instance of it to the Stage, and give it an instance name (such as loader_mc). Then you write a bit of ActionScript:
Step 1: Make sure NOTHING is selected on the Stage. Then open the Insert menu and select New Symbol.
Step 2: Name the symbol and select "Movie clip." Then click OK.
Step 3: Now you are in Symbol Editing Mode. Exit from that immediately! Either click the blue arrow (shown below in Windows XP/Flash 2004 MX), or click the words "Scene 1," or press Ctrl-E/Cmd-E to exit. This is a crucial step!
Step 4: Next, find your movie clip symbol in the Library. Drag it to the Stage.
Step 5: After you drop the empty movie clip on the Stage, the only sign of it is a tiny cicle with a cross inside it. When the movie clip is selected, you see the cross. When the movie clip is not selected, you will see a tiny black circle with a white center (no cross).
Step 6: To write ActionScript that controls this clip, you must give it an instance name. To do so, first select the movie clip on the Stage. Then look at the Properties panel and find the Instance Name field on the left side. In the illustration below, the movie clip has been given the instance name loader_mc.
Now that you have a proper empty movie clip, you can use ActionScript to load and unload external files.