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Do you mean when the swf is published?
JPGs cannot have transparent backgrounds. PNGs, yes. GIFs, yep.
Yes and no.
jpg's by definition do not have transparency - which is the no part of my answer.
The yes part is in HOW swfs are built.
Flash holds all of your graphics, and, at runtime compiles the entire frame into 1 jpg. So, each graphic is held with its transparency and, at runtime, is displayed as a part of a single jpg.
So, yes you can have graphics with clear backgrounds in flash, and they display as a part of a larger jpg.
But no, jpgs themselves cannot have clear backgrounds.
(The way the flash player works is, of course, quite a bit more intensive and complicated than my description states. This is a simplified statement for the purposes of answering your question)
Thanks Ross & Dan!
I appreciate the help. You each get raffle tickets, so you're a step closer to getting that giant plastic comb you've always wanted....sorry, having a Chuck E' Cheese flashback.
Ross - I had a thought that swfs might work the way you described, but your description is much better than the garble-de-goop going through my mind.
Thanks! You've helped me out a lot.