The washout is an optical transition used for editing purposes that is similar to the fade. Unlike the fade-out, where the images fade to black, in a washout, the images suddenly start to bleach out or to color until the screen becomes a frame of white or colored light. A new scene will then follow.
Also, the washout is the most extreme form of overexposure, which is the act of exposing each frame of film to more light or for a longer period of time than would be required to produce a "normal" exposure of the same subject. There is little or no visible detail in the highlights - the bright areas of the picture - and images appear bleached, more or less washed out. The effect is accomplished by directing the camera at a bright light source that would wash out most, if not all, of the frame area, or by having the effect processed in the film laboratory. While in 2014 some motion-picture directors were still opting for film emulsion-based photographic materials rather than digitally retrieved imagery, the number doing so was rapidly decreasing.
Ingmar Bergman made extensive use of the washout in this psychological film Cries and Whispers (1972). Bergman varied the technique for both the purposes of transition and for continuing his expressive use of color in the picture. The washouts would bring a single, rich color to the end of a scene to symbolize the emotions and psychological passions at work in the story. Washouts were also effectively employed in the fantasy sequences of Catch-22 (1970). Monster (2003) concludes with a washout as Aileen Wuornos (Charlize Theron) leaves the courtroom after she is sentenced to death. Similarly, a slow washout to white brings Hours (2012) to a tearful but happy conclusion in a shot where a father (Paul Walker) cuddles his premature daughter, whose life he has saved in a New Orleans hospital without electricity while Hurricane Katrina rages.