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 non visual 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.
Suspicion and speculations
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. When the files are examined in a Hex editor, it is revealed that the actual file is larger than it would be had it not been encoded. There has yet to be a satifactory explanation for how this format can speed up a download and facilitate higher quality video.
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 <ref name="vodei-1">http://vodei.wordpress.com/what-is-vodei/</ref> <ref name="vodei-2">http://www.videohelp.com/forum/archive/t260799.html</ref>.
More controversy has arisen regarding the software's claim to be "completely free". The software displays a nag screen after an undisclosed amount of use (pictured right).<ref name="nag-screen-1">http://www.vodei.com/faq.html#5</ref> <ref name="nag-screen-2">http://www.siteadvisor.com/sites/vodei.com/</ref> This is to entice the viewer to purchase the software and redirects the user to a registration page <ref name="registration">http://www.vodei.com/register.html</ref>. Typing in any 32 letters and/or digits will bring you to another screen asking for payment information (pictured right).
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.
There have been accusations that the software is spyware or adware. The FAQ on the softwares website claims the software does not connect to the internet, however, many users have reported that the processor stops functioning when a connection to the internet is severed.
Another possibility 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 pirate movie site http://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.
An individual identified as "VodeiMark" frequented at least one webboard between 2005 and 2006 in an attempt to dispel the mistrust of users<ref name="webboard-1">http://forum.inmatrix.com/index.php?s=&showtopic=2256&view=findpost&p=12989</ref>. This effort did not appear to be successful. He has issued an open invitation for those with questions to contact him via his email<ref name="webboard-2">http://forum.inmatrix.com/index.php?s=&showtopic=2256&view=findpost&p=12989</ref>: firstname.lastname@example.org.