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 Video Systems, as well as smaller tape duplicators like Magno Video, Resolution, Cassette Productions, GTK Duplicating Co., Osborn Video Productions, Cinemagnetics and ATI Mark 5 Products more often used Type B videotape in the mastering process for tapes that were duplicated through their facilities.
Beginning in the late '80s, digital videotape 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. Digital Betacam was also a popular format for videocassette duplication.
Professional half-inch tape
Also rising in popularity among videocassette duplicators in the late '80s was Betacam SP, which saw use well into the DVD era as an alternative to digital formats for those companies that didn't need to worry about having to use higher-quality formats for laser videodisc releases. Major tape duplicators like Mediacopy, Technicolor Videocassette and Deluxe Video Services used this technique.