I was wondering if there is some kind of free software I could use to compress my video files. I had this Real Produer or something, and it did compress them but it made them into "rv" format, and that doesn't seem to work for everyone.
I use what i think is the best free encoder for Windows Media files out there - Windows Media Encoder 9. It may look complicated but there is a Wizard to take you through the basic steps. It can be found here at Microsoft (who provide it free of charge!). If you decide to use it and get stuck, feel free to ask any questions about it in this thread. It includes four Windows Media Utilities too - don't forget to install them as well... you may need them one day!
This program is a bit slow initialising on start-up and will only convert certain file types (mainly .avi and mpeg files) into .wmv files so depending on what you start off with, you may need file conversion software as well. The quality you can get for any given bit rate frame size and frame rate is better than anything else I've seen - especially if you are patient enough to use Variable Bit Rates and Two Pass Encoding.
I don't use Real Media files at all so I can offer no help with them. I sometimes use DivX or XVid video files but not everyone has the means to play them and download the (generally) larger files.