A fellow animator (thanks Anand!) mentioned a parenting script called "Parentmaster". I'm just going to paste what he wrote, since it says it all:
- For referenced models, if you go to the reference file, open the parentmaster script ( a tiny window will pop up in the top left corner of your workspace). Then click on the contoller of the model that you need and then right click on the first button in the parentmaster window, it will say 'create parent groups', click on that and you are done. Now in the actual animation scene you can easily parent and unparent, by selecting both the controller and the object, and clicking on the parent button in the script window
- The script creates an extra group on top of both the contoller and object and then parents them. In the outliner, if you select these extra groups, you can actually see a green key on the timeline, which is the parenting key. If you wanna shift the parenting in the timeline you will have to shift the keys for controller, object and these green keys too...otherwise weird stuff will happen.
Visit the link for video tutorials! Thanks Anand!
- pic source