Stephen Colbert welcomes ‘Late Night’ audiences back with new drone-shot intro

drone shot opener

Night owl readers will already know this, but it’s worth cheering all the same. After 15 COVID-19-dominated months of mostly remote broadcasts, Stephen Colbert’s Late Night resumed filming shows before live audiences this week, opening up with a new intro shot by drones.

‘Late Night’ welcomes audiences back with new drone-shot credits intro

The former Daily Show favorite and current CBS fixture kicked off the seventh season of the show Tuesday with the new opening credits sequence. The intro footage was shot by drones, and is designed to give viewers a look and feel of the backstage hustle and bustle that goes into staging Late Night at its Ed Sullivan Theater home. The nervy, first-person-view (FPV) fly-through also radiates some of the energy and excitement of crew, cast, and audiences finally getting back together after more than a year and a half of COVID-19-imposed separation.

The sequence starts with an elevated shot of the Broadway theater, followed by footage from drone flights through the lobby, around the audience area, by dressing rooms, and amid wardrobe racks and props. Before cutting away to a live feed from behind of Colbert walking out on stage, the opener shows footage of Late Night band leader Jon Batiste tossing sheets of music into the air and strutting his stuff.

The new drone-shot intro was the work of New York-based Cinerigs, with Xizmo Media’s FPV Edward Kostakis at the sticks.

The sequence can run anywhere from 30 to 40 seconds to accommodate differing numbers of guest credits involved.

The tight confines of the venue made flying the craft inside a fairly tricky affair – particularly an early 180 circling of the theater’s domed-ceiling’s chandelier. According to a report in Variety that broke the news on the new opening sequence, an unexpected aspect of using drones in it also had to be taken into account.

Initially the craft were flown toward Batiste as he tosses his sheet music aloft – a move that wound up with the paper being sucked up by the vehicle’s propellers. As a workaround, producers reversed plans – pulling the drones away from the band leader in a longer shot that put neither paper nor rotors at risk.

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