Easy question! GTFS is the "planned" static schedule data, in comma separated text files, gathered together in the .zip file. Most, I think, but not all, agencies update this file once a week.
GTFS-RT, on the other hand, is a binary file or files with a .pb extension in Google's protobuffer file format. This file(s) has real-time information with alerts, vehicles position and other data, and, as you said, trip_updates that relates the real-time data to the static schedule. In this way you can represent arrivals/departures as early, late, on time, canceled, etc. The GTFS-RT file(s) are updated frequently, generally as often as every five to thirty seconds.
hope that helps.