If you have a DSLR camera or similar, which was made within the past 5 years, the chances are that it has HD video recording capabilities. The problem with stills photography is that you take the photo, edit it, share it online, then rarely look at most photos again. By taking videos and then using them on your TV and computer screens, you will get to appreciate your work more often.
I got this idea from a site called Uscenes who create computer screensavers and videos for TV screens. They basically film clips of scenery and then put the videos in the required formats for different uses. Besides scenes from nature you can also film other things like fish tanks and fireplaces.
The first step is to ready your camera. If you want to use the footage as a TV background video then you should use the highest video quality settings, usually 1080p. On computer screens it will be fine to stick with a lower resolution such as 720p. For the best video I like to shoot at 24 or 25 frames per second, then set the shutter speed to double this i.e. 48 or 50. Some scenes may look good in slow motion which is when you would want to increase the number of frames per second.
For this type of videography it is best to keep the camera still. This way you get the effect of a window to place in nature. So a tripod is essential. I have found that cheap tripods work just fine for this as long as it is not woo windy. If you want to create a video with panning then you will need a much better tripod as most budget and mid range tripods won’t pan smoothly enough.
Then set up your camera and start shooting. If the subject of the video is not moving too much you don’t need to much footage, perhaps a minute or two will do. If filming something like animals then you would want longer footage or the loop point will occur too often. The idea is to use the footage in a loop so that it plays continuously, so the loop point should be as seamless as possible. This is why it is best not to have too much going on in the video.
Next you will need to edit the video and encode it. I like to tone down the contrast, sharpness and saturation when filming so that I can get more detail out of the shadows and avoid white-outs after editing. This is not always necessary though, it depends if there are a lot of shadows and reflections or bright sun in the shot. There are various video editing tools to use, I have Adobe Premiere Pro but there are free options too. They should all have basic options to alter colour, contrast and sharpness.
For those on a Windows computer you could encode the video in the WMV format. On a Mac the MP4 format (H.264) is a good option. Play around with the export settings by lowering bitrate until you have a reasonable file size without harming the footage quality. If you will be using the footage on your TV through DVD or Bluray, you will need to export in a suitable setting to be burned to disc. Or you can stream the video through amedia streaming box or usb stick, be sure to play them on a media player with a loop or repeat button.
If you want to use the video as a computer screensaver there are a few free screensaver creating softwares available. Although the free versions may have a watermark or other limitations. I recommend trying the free versions first then you can always upgrade later. The screensavers will then be easy one-click installs and will work just like any other screensaver. This means they come on your PC or laptop screen after X minutes of inactivity and they will loop automatically.
When you get the hang of it all this process can become a little hobby and you may find yourself wanting to share your work with friends and family. I use my screensavers everyday and let them come on after 3 minutes of inactivity on my computer. I use the videos when I want to zone out or read without much distraction. They also make a nice background for any social gatherings.
Here is an example of a sunset video from Uscenes: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=cA4Xv3DtZyU