FREQUENTLY ASKED QUESTIONS
1. How do I request a photosim?
2. How do I request a modification to a photosim?
3. What is the difference between a modification and a correction?
4. What do I need to send for you to do the photosims?
5. What if I don't have drawings yet?
6. Can I get a map that shows the vatnage points of the photosims?
7. Is it cheaper if I provide the photos?
8. If I provide a digital image, what size should it be?
9. Do I have to meet you at the site when you photograph it?
10. Why does it cost more for a site meeting?
11. Can you photograph it from a particular viewpoint?
12. What is your turnaround time?
13. Do I have to pay beforehand, or will you bill me?
14. Do you take credit cards?
15. Do I get to proof the photosimulation before you finalize it?
16. Can you e-mail me a JPEG image of my photosim?
17. Do I get prints with my order?
18. Can I get a poster of my photosim?
19. What is the best photographic print available?
20. Can I get a PDF of a photosim from years ago?
21. Why are you guys so expensive?
22. Why are you guys so cheap?
23. How do I know the photosimulation is accurate?
24. Can I get an explanation or methodology with my photosims?
25. What is a photosurvey?

1. How do I request a photosim?
Simply send an email with the latest Zoning Drawings (redlines are okay) to don(at)p-sim.com. We will photograph the site as soon as possible and get you the photosims within our current turnaround time.
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2. How do I request a modification to a photosim?
Just send an email with the changes clearly defined. Advice: if there is a small change to the design, please tell me what the change is so that I am not pouring over page after page of the drawings, doing the "Where's Waldo" thing looking for the tiny difference.
3. What is the difference between a modification and a correction?
A correction is required if there was a mistake by Previsualists on a photosimulation. If we overlooked something, or read the plans wrong (yes, it can actually happen) then we will fix it at no cost whatsoever. A modification is when the design of the project has been changed, or the plans have been changed. If we did the photosimulation the way we were told, but now you want it changed, then it is considered a modification.
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4. What do I need to send for you to do the photosims?
Just the zoning or construction drawings should suffice. If the design is complex, or you are trying to match something that is not on the drawings, please clarify this in your email.
5. What if I don't have drawings yet?
Remember that all you need to do is accurately communicate the design to me. Use sketches, written descriptions, etc, to get the idea across. And you will need to provide an accurate location. A GPS coordinate is fine, or a map or aerial photo with notations will work too.
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6. Can I get a map that shows the vantage points of the photosims?
Yes, not a problem. Just request a photo location map when requesting the sims. The cost adds $75 to the final invoice.
7. Is it cheaper if I provide the photos?
Acutally it is the same price whether we photograph the site or if you provide the photos, assuming the site is within a reasonable driving distance. When we photograph a site it gives us the opportunity to measure the landmarks and establish accurate control points for our 3-D model. You are more than welcome to send your own photographs, but the price is the same either way.
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8. If I provide a digital image, what size should it be?
The digital camera should be 3 Megapixels or greater, and the settings should be at the highest quality. There are two settings for every camera - resolution and compression. Resolution is the number of pixels height and width. Compression is the software "shrinking" the file to allow you to store more images on your card - the smaller the file the lower the quality and blurrier the image becomes.
9. Do I have to meet you at the site when you photograph it?
No. In fact, it is preferred that you do not meet us at the site. The reasons are simple:
#1. We need everything documented, and all instructions must be in writing. In our experience at site meetings, many of the clients want to verbally describe the photosim project. All our photosimulations go through a double-check process to ensure accuracy. If verbal instructions are given, for example, the person double-checking may not know all of the details discussed, which could lead to a "he said/she said" discrepancy.
#2. The other important reason is scheduling. Because of our very fast turnaround times, it is difficult plan photography sessions more than a couple of days in advance. It is best to photograph a site when the lighting and weather are optimal, and in conjunction with other photo sessions in the area.
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10. Why does it cost more for a site meeting?
In most cases, a site meeting will take much more time to shoot. In addition, our schedule would be dictated not by the best lighting or conditions, but by someone else's availability. In reality, site meetings take time, and we need to be compensated for our time.
11. Can you photograph it from a particular viewpoint?
Yes, of course. We can shoot the photosim from any place you choose, with one caveat. We will not do a photosimulation if its only purpose is to be deceitful. There is a fine line between "selling" a project and being deceitful. For instance, there is the "one tree syndrome" - where the photographer takes a picture so that the only tree around is directly in line with, and blocks the view of, the proposed tower. This does not represent the project well. On the other hand, if the site is completely surrounded with trees, and not visible from anywhere except one little spot, it would not be fair to the project proponent to show only that one view. We try to select viewpoints that are representative of the site, and strike a balance between showing the most information and detail (worst case scenario) and illustrating how invisible the site will be.
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12. What is your turnaround time?
Our turnaround time varies with the current workload. The number of current projects varies, so the turn around time can be between 2 and 10 business days. Of course, the average is under one week. You can keep current on our turnaround time by checking our constantly updated page: Click here
13. Do I have to pay beforehand, or will you bill me?
We will accept Purchase orders. We will invoice the full amout upon completion of the photosims.
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14. Do you take credit cards?
Yes! VISA, Mastercard, Discover and American Express.
15. Do I get to proof the photosimulation before you finalize it?
The final photosimulation is sent as a PDF file. If there are any mistakes or changes, simply ask for a correction and it will be corrected right away. Just be aware that if the design changes there will be a modification charge.
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16. Can you e-mail me a JPEG image of my photosim?
Yes. Our standard output is PDF, with each viewpoint as a separate page. But if you would like a JPEG of each image just let us know.
17. Do I get prints with my order?
Thanks to the policies of the Board of Equalization, we are legally not allowed to provide prints unless we charge CA Sales Tax on the entire amount of the invoice. We aggressive fought this ruling because we feel it puts us at a competitive disadvantage. Licensed Architects to not charge sales tax on drawings, correct? We should not be required to charge Sales Tax on photosims. The BOE considers photosims to be a tangible product, while Zoning Drawings are a service. So we do not provide prints.
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18. Can I get a poster of my photosim?
Yes. The PDF files that we send are suitable for printing at Kinko's or a similar print shop, up to 3'x4'. Feel free to have them printed. There is no copyright on printing.
19. What is the best photographic print available?
While we do not provide the printing services any longer, we support printing at any major print shop or photo processor such as the Costco Photo Lab.
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20. Can I get a PDF of photosims from years ago?
Yes. We keep every photosimulation backed up in our state-of-the-art archives. All work and correspondence and final product is available for the past twenty years. With over 18,000 photosims, however, you may need to provide some clues in order for us to get you the exact file you are looking for.
21. Why are you guys so expensive?
Because we are the best. We believe in the philosophy that "you get what you pay for". At Previsualists, we provide absolutely the most accurate and realistic high quality photosimulations in the industry. We spend hours researching each site to make sure it is done as accurately as possible. While other firms may simply "cut and paste", we make sure that the photosimulation that you are taking into that jurisdiction is exactly what is being shown on the plans, with proper scale and representative viewpoints.
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22. Why are you guys so cheap?
We have had clients ask that we raise our prices. We feel that our prices are fair enough. Geographically, our prices are much less than half of the cost of photosimulations in the New England area. They are slightly higher than the Los Angeles area. Previsualists set the standard for the prices in the Bay area back in 1997, and we have not raised our prices since then.
23. How do I know the photosimulation is accurate?
Accuracy is the most important aspect of our photosimulations. We have developed methodology over the past nine years that ensure the highest level of accuracy in the industry. We use aerial photographs, GPS readings, scale poles, calibrated digital cameras, and a host of other tricks to achieve a high level of confidence in our photosims. Our photosimulations are supported by our experience in the industry, backed by an aresenal of equipment and methodology, and our drive to achieve the highest quality product.
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24. Can I get an explanation or methodology with my photosims?
Sure. An explanation graphic is only $75, and is a letter sized page that explains how we ensured the accuracy of your photosim.
25. What is a photosurvey?
A photosurvey is used when you want to show numerous viewpoints without paying for each individual photosim. A photosurvey will provide at least 8 viewpoints, from all surrounding areas, at a very reasonable package rate. A photosurvey costs $800.
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