Cell division – the process by which one living cell splits into two genetically identical daughter cells – is one of the fundamental processes of life. It’s how a single-celled zygote can transform into a fully-fledged organism. It’s going on in your body right now, wherever growth, repair or maintenance are happening.
But cells are tiny and cell division is slow, so it’s not often that you get the chance to see it occur.
Filmmaker Francis Chee set out to capture the process in a frog egg, starting from only two cells and filming for 33 hours while those cells split and split and split. It was a “tricky shot”, he writes, with a lot of complexities: “the ambient temperature during shooting; the time at which eggs were collected; the handling skills of the operator, the type of water used; lenses; quality of camera”.