What kind of specific training mimics the astounding leaps, gravity-defying climbs, and spring-board jumps of an ape? Parkour (see images below). For Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, film makers hired these unique athletes to capture authentic moves mirroring simians. Sure, CGI was required, but as opposed to its predecessor (Rise of the Planet of the Apes), they wanted the action to look more real this time around. With parkour stuntmen donning motion capture suits as a template, "you're never in danger of breaking the laws of physics," said Daniel Barrett, an animation supervisor for the film. “You have a much better shot at credibility.” Under the tutelage of trainer/gymnast Terry Notary, athletes and actors boned up on their ape moves, while also studying general monkey behavior. Cast members worked extensively to develop the mindset and physicality of a primate, including riding horses (who at first were freaked out by non-human style gestures and grunts). And this isn't the first time parkour has been used in a major blockbuster. For the opening action sequence of Casino Royale, one of the sports founding developers, Sebastien Foucan, performed death-defying leaps and bounds opposite 007. Learn more about parkour here.
Cast member in motion control suits (courtesy Empire Magazine)