What is a video editing API and why you need one

Video editing is the process of manipulating and arranging video clips, images, audio, text and other elements to create a final video product. Video editing can be done using software applications installed on your computer or online platforms that run on your browser. However, both of these options have some limitations and drawbacks, such as:

  • They require manual work and human intervention, which can be time-consuming, error-prone and expensive.
  • They are not scalable or flexible enough to handle large volumes of videos or complex workflows.
  • They are not compatible with all devices, formats or resolutions.
  • They are not easy to integrate with other applications or services.

This is where a video editing API comes in handy. A video editing API is a web service that allows you to edit videos programmatically using code. You can use a video editing API to automate the generation of videos at scale, customise them according to your needs and preferences, and deliver them to your audience in the most efficient way possible.

How does a video editing API work?

A video editing API works by accepting JSON data that describes the arrangement of a video edit. JSON is a lightweight and human-readable data format that can be used to specify the assets (such as images, video clips, audio tracks, text and transitions) and the effects (such as animations, filters, overlays and captions) that you want to apply to your video.

For example, here is a JSON snippet that defines a simple video edit:

"timeline": {
"tracks": [
"clips": [
"asset": {
"type": "image",
"src": "https://example.com/image1.jpg"
"start": 0,
"length": 3,
"effect": {
"type": "zoomIn"
"asset": {
"type": "video",
"src": "https://example.com/video1.mp4"
"start": 3,
"length": 10,
"transition": {
"in": {
"type": "fade"
"asset": {
"type": "title",
"text": "This is a video editing API",
"style": "minimal"
"start": 13,
"length": 5
"output": {
"format": "mp4",
"resolution": "sd"

This JSON data tells the video editing API to create a video that consists of three clips: an image with a zoom-in effect, a video with a fade-in transition and a title with a minimal style. The output format is MP4 and the resolution is standard definition.

You can send this JSON data to the video editing API using HTTP requests. The API will then fetch and edit your assets, merge them into a single video file and return a URL where you can download or stream your video.

What are the benefits of a video editing API?

Using a video editing API has many advantages over traditional video editing methods, such as:

  • It saves you time and money by automating the video creation process and eliminating the need for human editors.
  • It allows you to scale up or down your video production according to your demand and budget.
  • It enables you to create personalised and dynamic videos that suit your audience's preferences and interests.
  • It gives you more control and flexibility over your video content and style.
  • It simplifies the integration of video editing features into your existing applications or services.

How to choose a video editing API?

There are many video editing APIs available in the market, but not all of them are created equal. Some factors that you should consider when choosing a video editing API are:

  • The features and functionality that it offers, such as the types of assets, effects, transitions and formats that it supports.
  • The performance and reliability that it delivers, such as the speed, quality and availability of its service.
  • The ease of use and documentation that it provides, such as the simplicity, clarity and completeness of its API interface and documentation.
  • The pricing and support that it charges, such as the cost, billing model and customer service that it offers.

One of the best video editing APIs that meets all these criteria is Shotstack. Shotstack is a cloud-based platform for editing videos using code that enables developers, marketers and designers to automate the generation of videos at scale. Shotstack uses a REST based API hosted in the cloud that uses JSON data describing the arrangement of a video edit.

Shotstack has many features and benefits that make it stand out from other video editing APIs, such as:

Try Shotstack out for yourself with and sign up for a free account.

Debbie Gainsford

18th May 2023

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