A plurality of processing stages interposed between an input and an output of a system including a pipeline machine interconnect for conveyance of tokens along the pipeline. Control and or data tokens in the form of universal adaptation units interface with all of the stages in the pipeline and alternatively interact with selected stages in the pipeline so that the processing stages in the pipeline are afforded enhanced flexibility in configuration and processing. In one embodiment of the system, the stages accept a data stream having portions encoded according to respectively different video formats. At least one of the stages includes circuitry for generating signals to indicate an end-of-picture data decoding. The stage includes state machine logic that is responsive to the generated signals for effecting an end of picture data decoding by clearing the pipeline. A method of clearing the pipeline includes receiving a data stream, indicating an end of picture data decoding, and clearing the pipeline when an end of picture data decoding has been indicated.