Watch a short ~8 minute tutorial on how you can create a cell division effect in Maya, the easiest way possible, from Medical Artist and Animator Emily Holden (Emily McDougall).
“There are a few different ways you can approach cell division in Maya, but I think this is quite a simple and effective method… and it avoids scripting! — Emily Holden”
There are a few tools that can handle Cell animation in Maya, MASH being one of them. Another easy way to get a cell devision effect might be to use a blobby system.
Some applications will let you create models through a MetaBall, or Blobby system, where objects merge into each other based on an influence. It can be an interesting way to get organic looking models quickly. Interestingly, Metaballs were invented by Jim Blinn, going all the way back in the early 1980s.
Maya doesn’t have a metaball system per se, but it will allow you to work with blobby’s through nParticles. The problem then remains that particles might not be completely easy for some people. Not to worry, Emily shows that you can still operate and animate things manually, by simply using clusters to provide a top-level transform for each of the particles.
This can make animation easy, if you re only animating a few cells, as in Emily’s example. The tutorial continues to show an easy way to approach the animation, with a bit of manual keyframing. Working this way might take a little longer, but it completely avoids having to control particles with scripting and expressions.