Difference between revisions of "Vodei"

From MultimediaWiki
Jump to navigation Jump to search
(rever to last accurate version by DonDiego)
 
(29 intermediate revisions by 5 users not shown)
Line 1: Line 1:
'''Vodei Multimedia Processor''' is a software product whose stated purpose is enabling playback of files created with the Vodei encoder. The files consist of the original multimedia file and a short AVI file with an additional encrypted/obfuscated segment appended to the end.
+
'''Vodei''' is proprietery multimedia container based on the [[AVI]] format. A product known as Vodei Multimedia Processor, which is avilable for Microsoft Windows from http://www.vodei.com, is the only known way of displaying or converting Vodei files. These files consist of three parts: a standard compliant AVI video which is displayed when Vodei MP is not installed, a specially encoded/encrypted/formated video which plays when the appropriate software is installed, and a small amount of control data.
  
==Playback==
 
[[Image:vodeiad.gif|thumb|150px|right|Embedded Ad for Vodei Multimedia Processor from a file (Click to enlarge)]]
 
The AVI portion of the file usually contains a short advertisement for vodei.com encoded with Microsoft RLE. Vodei Multimedia Processor is the software which will decode the additional segment. This can be confirmed, and perhaps bypassed{[http://www.vladd44.com/video/vodei.php]}, through the use of a simple [[hex editor]] program.
 
Upon playback without the processor, the player will only show a short advertisement for the software (pictured right). After downloading and installing the software the file should play fine.
 
  
Vodei MP is available for [[Microsoft Windows]]. After installation, playback of Vodei encoder created files works in [[media player|media players]] such as [[Windows Media Player]]. Vodei MP is not a [[codec]], and after extracting the additional data from the end of the AVI file, simply passes it to the standard [[Video for Windows]] interface for decoding (verifiable through a hex editor). An [[MPEG-4]] decoder such as [[ffdshow]] is required for the actual video decoding.
+
==Playback and Conversion using Vodei Multimedia Processor==
  
==Suspicion and speculations==
+
When installed on any compatible system (Windows 98+), Vodei Multimedia Processor acts as a [[Microsoft DirectShow API|DirectShow]] filter splitter for Vodei files. The software reads the files, extracts the audio/video and passes is on to the codecs installed on the system for decoding. Once decoded, the data can be displayed in any DirectShow media player such as [[Windows Media Player]]. It is also possible to transcode the content in Vodei files using any application capable of using DirectShow as an input. As always, transcoding to lossy format will result in a loss in quality. Vodei MP uses the DirectShow merit system to pass any non Vodei files to the next highest priority compatible splitter on the system - as such, the software should have no impact on non Vodei files.
 +
 
 +
When Vodei MP is not installed, only the standard AVI compliant portion of the file can be opened. Both audio/video portions can be encoded using any codec and be of any length but many files found in the wild contain a short video encoded with [[Microsoft RLE]], directing the viewer to download the software, and a longer video encoded with a [[MPEG-4]] codec.
 +
[[Image:vodeiad.gif|thumb|150px|right|Screenshot of Video Directing the Viewer to Download Vodei Multimedia Processor for Playback (Click to enlarge)]]
 +
 
 +
 
 +
==File Format and Purpose==
 +
 
 +
According the official website, "Vodei makes possible the storage of higher quality content in smaller files and the faster transmission of multimedia files over file distribution networks." The website does not explain how this is done.
 +
 
 +
If one is to assume that the only part that the viewer is interested in is PartB (the specifically encoded part) then a typical Vodei file contains about 2MB of "useless" data and using this format actually increases the file size. It is, however, PartA that informs the viewer what the required software is (both Vodei MP and the audio/video codecs) as opposed to letting the viewer figure it out on their own. A computer newbie left on their own to figure out codec related things is a waste of their time and a danger to their computer; as such, the extra 2MB is well worth a few seconds of extra downloading time. The file size reduction (if exists) may be due to the way PartB is stored but this can't be determined conclusively since the size of the original data is unknown and the Vodei encoder is not public available. It is safe to say that there are both less efficient and more efficient methods - with their own upsides and downsides - of storing Vodei equivalent multimedia quality.
 +
 
 +
A faulty assumption is that the only way to increase data transmission speeds is reducing the size of the data; this can be illustrated using a real world analogy. When driving from point A to point B, taking a 4 lane highspeed highway may involve traveling a greater distance but would still take less time than taking small streets with multiple stop signs and traffic lights. Similarly, it is possible, using the right system, to increase transmission speeds and reduce download time while also increasing the file size. Vodei could, in theory, improve download times by utilizing an encoding algorithm specially suited for one (or a set of) file distribution network or running a CDN.
 +
 
 +
It has been proposed that Vodei is designed for copyright protection but this is unlikely since the software places no restrictions on playback or conversion. The FAQ appears to indicate that the software is financed through license fees charged to publishers but it has also been suggested, on Internet forums, that Vodei MP is sold using the shareware model.
 +
 
 +
==Marketing Method==
 
[[Image:vodeinag.gif|thumb|150px|right|Nag Screen for Vodei Multimedia Processor (Click to enlarge)]]
 
[[Image:vodeinag.gif|thumb|150px|right|Nag Screen for Vodei Multimedia Processor (Click to enlarge)]]
 
[[Image:vodeireg.gif|thumb|150px|right|Billing Screen for Vodei Multimedia Processor (Click to enlarge)]]
 
[[Image:vodeireg.gif|thumb|150px|right|Billing Screen for Vodei Multimedia Processor (Click to enlarge)]]
According to the Vodei MP website, the Vodei encoder makes it possible to store higher quality movies in smaller files. The method used to achieve this is not disclosed on the official website. Furthermore, while Vodei Multimedia Processor is advertised as a free download, the Vodei encoder is not publicly available and its target audience is not revealed by the Vodei MP creator, which is a source of heated debates and articles questioning the real purpose of the software, its business model, and describing how to transform files produced by the Vodei encoder back to standard file containers or investigating the origin of S.V.R. Consulting Ltd., the alleged Vodei MP creator ([http://vodei.wordpress.com/what-is-vodei/], [http://www.videohelp.com/forum/archive/t260799.html]).
+
The advertising strategy for the software is three-pronged.
 +
The majority of users that learn of Vodei Multimedia Processor do so by downloading a file encoded with the container. As stated before, viewing the file without the software merely displays an ad to the software maker where it is advertised as a free download.
 +
The user can then download the software and install it. After an extended amount of use, the software might open a dialog box (pictured right) asking the viewer to register the software. Upon typing in the users machine number in the registration page, the site transfers the user to another page asking for payment information (pictured lower right).
  
More controversy has arisen regarding the softwares claim to be "costless". The software displays a nag screen after an undisclosed amount of use (pictured right).{[http://www.vodei.com/faq.html#5]} {[http://www.siteadvisor.com/sites/vodei.com/]} to entice the viewer to purchase the software and redirects the user to a registration page {[http://www.vodei.com/register.html]}. Typing in any 32 letters and/or digits will bring you to another screen asking for payment information (pictured right).
+
==Safety==
  
Still more controversy has arisen around the fact that all encoded files tend to be illegal copies of adult and mainstream movies. To date, there appear to be no known instances of perfectly legal movies circulating around the internet using the encoding. There have been unsubstantiated accusations that the software is an attempt to track illegal pirating.
+
Unfortunately with the prevalence of spyware, viruses, and malware on the Internet these days, it has become natural for people to become suspicious of Internet downloads. This section applies only to Vodei MP version 2.00 downloaded from the official website [http://vodei.com/VodeiSetup200.exe]. Caution should be used when installing older, newer, cracked, hacked, or pirated versions as they may behave differently.
  
There have been accusations that the software is spyware or adware but there is no evidence to support this claim. Another possiblity is that the software is meant to facilitate media pirating, yet enable the potential for profitability (by distributing pirated content freely, but getting money from people who want to play the encrypted files by charging for the decoder — an idea strengthened by the use of the Vodei encoder to encrypt movies on the [[copyright infringement|pirate]] movie site [[moviesempire.com]]). Yet another, more benign, theory is that the software is a beta model of an encryption technique that can allow media to be shared openly, yet still allow the original authors to receive payment for their work.
+
The first concern, despite denials by the creators, is that Vodei MP is allegedly spyware that uses the Internet to communicate and report information about the user's computer and behavior (such as what media files are viewed) to the author, government, content owner, or some other third party. Vodei MP has been tested and worked as described on Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Vista with no Internet connection. Once the systems were connected to the Internet and traffic analyzed using a packet sniffer, Vodei MP did not attempt to connect to the Internet over a period of 72 hours. Vodei MP does load some Windows libraries related to networking but these have many other uses, such as internal local communication, besides connecting to the Internet. Since the software never connects to the Internet, it is not possible for it to be spyware because it never sends any information to anyone.  
  
An individual identified as "VodeiMark" frequented at least one webboard between 2005 and 2006 in an attempt to dispel the mistrust of users{[http://forum.inmatrix.com/index.php?s=&showtopic=2256&view=findpost&p=12989]}. This effort did not appear to be successful. He has issued an open invitation for those with questions to contact him via his email{[http://forum.inmatrix.com/index.php?s=&showtopic=2256&view=findpost&p=12989]}:[mailto:mark@vodei.com mark@vodei.com].
+
Vodei MP does not modify any multimedia files and it does not modify any system data or registry entries which are not necessary for proper playback of Vodei files. The included uninstaller undoes all changes made to the Windows Registry during installation and removes all files created during installation, with one exception. Due to limitations in Microsoft Windows preventing the deletion of files which are in use, in some cases some DLL files will remain in the installation directory; these files are completely harmless and can be easily deleted after restarting the computer.
  
[[Category:Multimedia]]
+
The conclusion is that any unexpected behavior (none of which appeared during this test) exhibited by Vodei MP is due to an unintentional conflict with other software or a bug; this should of course be reported to the distributor.
  
 
==External links==
 
==External links==
*[http://www.vodei.com vodei.com] - Official website
+
* [http://www.vodei.com Vodei Multimedia Processor - Higher Quality Movies, Faster Downloads] - Official website
*[http://forum.inmatrix.com/index.php?showtopic=2256 inmatrix.com] - Notable discussion board with comments by VodeiMark
+
* [http://www.siteadvisor.com/sites/vodei.com/ Web Safety Ratings from McAfee SiteAdvisor] - Automated impartial safety analysis for the Vodei website and software
* [http://vodei.wordpress.com/ Wordpress page] with user information
+
* [http://vodei.wordpress.com/ exposing vodei] - An incomplete investigation of Vodei
 +
 
 +
[[Category:Container Formats]]

Latest revision as of 02:01, 16 September 2007

Vodei is proprietery multimedia container based on the AVI format. A product known as Vodei Multimedia Processor, which is avilable for Microsoft Windows from http://www.vodei.com, is the only known way of displaying or converting Vodei files. These files consist of three parts: a standard compliant AVI video which is displayed when Vodei MP is not installed, a specially encoded/encrypted/formated video which plays when the appropriate software is installed, and a small amount of control data.


Playback and Conversion using Vodei Multimedia Processor

When installed on any compatible system (Windows 98+), Vodei Multimedia Processor acts as a DirectShow filter splitter for Vodei files. The software reads the files, extracts the audio/video and passes is on to the codecs installed on the system for decoding. Once decoded, the data can be displayed in any DirectShow media player such as Windows Media Player. It is also possible to transcode the content in Vodei files using any application capable of using DirectShow as an input. As always, transcoding to lossy format will result in a loss in quality. Vodei MP uses the DirectShow merit system to pass any non Vodei files to the next highest priority compatible splitter on the system - as such, the software should have no impact on non Vodei files.

When Vodei MP is not installed, only the standard AVI compliant portion of the file can be opened. Both audio/video portions can be encoded using any codec and be of any length but many files found in the wild contain a short video encoded with Microsoft RLE, directing the viewer to download the software, and a longer video encoded with a MPEG-4 codec.

Screenshot of Video Directing the Viewer to Download Vodei Multimedia Processor for Playback (Click to enlarge)


File Format and Purpose

According the official website, "Vodei makes possible the storage of higher quality content in smaller files and the faster transmission of multimedia files over file distribution networks." The website does not explain how this is done.

If one is to assume that the only part that the viewer is interested in is PartB (the specifically encoded part) then a typical Vodei file contains about 2MB of "useless" data and using this format actually increases the file size. It is, however, PartA that informs the viewer what the required software is (both Vodei MP and the audio/video codecs) as opposed to letting the viewer figure it out on their own. A computer newbie left on their own to figure out codec related things is a waste of their time and a danger to their computer; as such, the extra 2MB is well worth a few seconds of extra downloading time. The file size reduction (if exists) may be due to the way PartB is stored but this can't be determined conclusively since the size of the original data is unknown and the Vodei encoder is not public available. It is safe to say that there are both less efficient and more efficient methods - with their own upsides and downsides - of storing Vodei equivalent multimedia quality.

A faulty assumption is that the only way to increase data transmission speeds is reducing the size of the data; this can be illustrated using a real world analogy. When driving from point A to point B, taking a 4 lane highspeed highway may involve traveling a greater distance but would still take less time than taking small streets with multiple stop signs and traffic lights. Similarly, it is possible, using the right system, to increase transmission speeds and reduce download time while also increasing the file size. Vodei could, in theory, improve download times by utilizing an encoding algorithm specially suited for one (or a set of) file distribution network or running a CDN.

It has been proposed that Vodei is designed for copyright protection but this is unlikely since the software places no restrictions on playback or conversion. The FAQ appears to indicate that the software is financed through license fees charged to publishers but it has also been suggested, on Internet forums, that Vodei MP is sold using the shareware model.

Marketing Method

Nag Screen for Vodei Multimedia Processor (Click to enlarge)
Billing Screen for Vodei Multimedia Processor (Click to enlarge)

The advertising strategy for the software is three-pronged. The majority of users that learn of Vodei Multimedia Processor do so by downloading a file encoded with the container. As stated before, viewing the file without the software merely displays an ad to the software maker where it is advertised as a free download. The user can then download the software and install it. After an extended amount of use, the software might open a dialog box (pictured right) asking the viewer to register the software. Upon typing in the users machine number in the registration page, the site transfers the user to another page asking for payment information (pictured lower right).

Safety

Unfortunately with the prevalence of spyware, viruses, and malware on the Internet these days, it has become natural for people to become suspicious of Internet downloads. This section applies only to Vodei MP version 2.00 downloaded from the official website [1]. Caution should be used when installing older, newer, cracked, hacked, or pirated versions as they may behave differently.

The first concern, despite denials by the creators, is that Vodei MP is allegedly spyware that uses the Internet to communicate and report information about the user's computer and behavior (such as what media files are viewed) to the author, government, content owner, or some other third party. Vodei MP has been tested and worked as described on Windows 98, Windows 2000, Windows XP and Windows Vista with no Internet connection. Once the systems were connected to the Internet and traffic analyzed using a packet sniffer, Vodei MP did not attempt to connect to the Internet over a period of 72 hours. Vodei MP does load some Windows libraries related to networking but these have many other uses, such as internal local communication, besides connecting to the Internet. Since the software never connects to the Internet, it is not possible for it to be spyware because it never sends any information to anyone.

Vodei MP does not modify any multimedia files and it does not modify any system data or registry entries which are not necessary for proper playback of Vodei files. The included uninstaller undoes all changes made to the Windows Registry during installation and removes all files created during installation, with one exception. Due to limitations in Microsoft Windows preventing the deletion of files which are in use, in some cases some DLL files will remain in the installation directory; these files are completely harmless and can be easily deleted after restarting the computer.

The conclusion is that any unexpected behavior (none of which appeared during this test) exhibited by Vodei MP is due to an unintentional conflict with other software or a bug; this should of course be reported to the distributor.

External links