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To faciliate easy editing of your Flash file, it's a good rule of thumb to place each asset on its own layer. This is especially true if you plan to animate or tween any of the assets (since only one item can be tweened per layer). However, there are many occasions when it is sensible to create your artwork on a single layer.
After you've created your artwork, you can then use the built-in Distribute to Layers option to move all of the selected assets to their own layers. The assets could be shapes, text, bitmaps, symbol instances, components, or anything else on the Stage.
Access the Distribute to Layers option by right-clicking (or control-clicking on Mac) on your selected artwork.
You can now easily animate the individual layers. If you've converted your assets to symbols before distributing to layers, the new layers will be named to match the symbol names (rather than being given generic layer names).
If you selected all of the artwork on your original layer before distributing, that layer will now be empty. You can delete the empty layer if you're no longer going to use it.
As you create more layers, you'll have more control over individual pieces of your Timeline, but the extra layers can make your Timeline difficult to navigate. To have the best of both worlds, consider putting your original layer in a layer folder before distributing your assets to layers.
A layer folder will keep all of your assets grouped together and allow you to collapse the layers within the layer folder when you're not using them.
For more tips and step-by-step, illustrated instructions for creating animation in Flash, check out Animation with Scripting in Adobe Flash CS5 Studio Techniques.