December 17, 2013
It's been an exciting year in the PCGS Photo Department. We've seen some incredible rarities come through our doors, and it really has been an honor to photograph such national treasures as the Coronet Collection, the Missouri Cabinet Collection, the Walton Nickel, and the Nova Constellatio Pattern Set. It's been a hectic year, and I'd like to thank my team for making it all possible: Zu Negron, for assembling our images and making sure they get online in a timely manner, as well as dealing with any problems that may arise in our database, and helping me turn around orders as efficiently as possible. Chris Thomas for all his assistance throughout the year in dealing with our ever increasing workload, his help at our shows, and also for establishing the photo setup in the new Shanghai office. And finally Chrissie Good, whose expertise has become a vital part of our department, and who I'm confident will produce wonderful images for our customers in 2014.
TrueView hasn't changed much since it began in 2005. You submit your coins, and you get an email with a link to your images. We've included various other image sizes, tweaked our template a bit, and relaxed our submission requirements. But on the whole things remain the same. But technology and communications have changed a lot since 2005. At PCGS we're beginning to think about what else we can do to improve the service, while maintaining a reasonable price, and ensuring things are handled in a timely and efficient manner. This is where input from you, the customer, becomes necessary.
One of the biggest questions I get pertains to the template of our images. Some people prefer the white CoinFacts style background, yet others would prefer black, still others want more information in the template such as the grade of the coin. Could we, or should we make these additional templates available to the customer on the download page? Currently only the one standard TrueView background template is offered, and at the very least this will not change as an option... I learned my lesson on this a few years ago when I attempted to change the TrueView template, and I had a bit of a revolt on my hands. Still, programming our system to offer new backgrounds is, in theory, feasible. But is the demand there?
Another possibility in TrueView's future is the further acceptance of taking through-the-holder photos of coins. Some people, for a variety of reasons, do not want to crack coins out of their older holders. Others, from a somewhat philosophical standpoint, prefer coin images taken through the holder. We have made exceptions and have taken such photos on occasion, but should this be part of the standard service?
I remember a time not so long ago when I was fretting over how many gigabytes I had available to me in my archives. Now it seems I have more terabytes than I know what to do with. In early 2012 we started to keep every single image taken of any coin. Sometimes I'll just take one or two shots of a coin, other times I'll get a tricky one and take a hundred. TrueViews usually get more shots than average compared to a coin photographed just for our archives. This has the advantage of allowing me to make any changes or corrections well after the fact. It also comes in handy if I'm not sure what the customer is looking for, because a coin can really look drastically different depending on the lighting. So I may send a customer a link to the raw files I have for them to peruse in order to get their input. Making this part of the regular service may make things much more time-consuming and inefficient, but could it be an additional service? Could we show multiple TrueViews?
These are just three possible directions the TrueView service could take in 2014, but there are many other alternatives we could consider to make the TrueView service more modern, and more attractive to submitters. Please email me at [email protected] with your thoughts and suggestions.