What's the Difference Between Flash Graphics and Movie Clips?

Tips for animating in Flash

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Both movie clips and graphics are a type of symbol within Flash, and they each have unique attributes about them. Graphic symbols and movie symbols are generally the two types you'll use most when animating within Flash.

Adobe discontinued Flash. Support for it on all platforms ends by December 31, 2020.

What's the Difference?

The difference between a graphic symbol and a movie clip is that a movie clip behaves much more like a GIF than it does a controllable aspect of your animation. A movie clip has its own timeline within the symbol, but you don't have much control over it once it's placed into your main project. A movie clip will run on its own as you can move it around and animate it, but it will play independently of your other animation.

Graphic Symbol

A graphic symbol comes in handy much more often. They too have their own timeline within their symbol but you enjoy complete control to play the animation or render a still frame—or to jump around within the symbol's timeline.

The best example of how useful graphics are is in things like lip syncing, where each frame of the mouth uses a different frame within the symbol and you're free to pick and choose which one you want to display.