The development of MP3 and JPEG sparked an explosion in digital content on the internet. These early encoding formats have since been joined by many others, including Quicktime, Ogg, MPEG-2 and MPEG-4, which poses an escalating challenge to vendors wishing to develop devices that interoperate with as much content as possible. This paper presents aspects of Reconfigurable Media Coding (RMC), a project currently underway at MPEG to define a self-describing bitstream format. In other words, an RMC bitstream contains metadata to assemble a decoder from a fundamental building-blocks, as well as a schema that describes the syntax of the content data, and how it may be parsed. RMC makes it easy to extend (reconfigure) existing codecs, for example adding error resilience or new chroma-subsampling profiles, or to build entirely new codecs. This paper addresses the bitstream syntax component of RMC, validating the approach by applying it to the recent MPEG-4 Video simple profile coder.