Even in the old days of home video, special techniques were used for producing masters.
The oldest trick in the book, this was used to produce television prints of motion pictures up until the 1970s. It involved aiming a video camera at a projection screen and capturing the footage projected onto it. Though obviously primitive, it produced decent results for its time, and was just fine for the average home viewer.
This technique was used to pre-master many DiscoVision titles until 1982. Using a flying spot scanner, MCA transferred films to videotape one frame at a time at what was considered at the time to be high quality, and certainly better-looking than the film chain method. Unfortunately, this technique was well ahead of its time, and IVC went bust in the early '80s, resulting in MCA and Pioneer junking a lot of valuable materials they now considered worthless.
This was used for a lot of mastering in the 1980s. Type C was the preferred format for pre-mastering for laser videodisc, CED, and VHD, though videotape duplicator Bell & Howell more often used Type B videotape in the mastering process for tapes that went through its facilities.
Beginning in the late '80s, digital tape became the preferred mastering format for home video, with D2 in particular taking over from Type C videotape as the preferred mastering material for laser videodiscs.